Yesterday Benjamin came home from school with an invitation to a birthday party. The invite read:
Who: Girl's name
When: Feb 10th
Where: my house
First of all I noticed the date. Woah! That's today! Ok, I can miss my exercise class (talk about short notice). Second of all I realized that we didn't have a gift for this little girl. I didn't even know how birthday parties went here. I didn't know how much to spend. I didn't want to be cheap but I also didn't want to seem pompous and flashy by getting something more expensive than the other gifts (we are trying to fit in remember?). Third of all (and I wonder why it wasn't the first) I realized that I had NO CLUE who this little girl was, who her parents were, nor did I have any idea where she lived!!?!?!? No telephone number or address on the envelope. At this point I'm laughing out loud as to how funny this invite was... People are so laid back here, compared to me anyway. I'd want to know numbers, the invites would have gone out a few weeks before and I would have included a MAP. Yes I know I'm a little neurotic when it comes to details... Anyway so Brian and I go off searching for this info; Brian at work asking around and myself calling the few people I know. It gets funnier. I called a friend and by chance she actually knew the person and told me the house number and a description of where it was. You see there are no street names here, only house numbers. Well I guess there's the old system of numbers and the new system of numbers. All documentation and maps have the new system but the locals still use the old... Brian drove around and could not find the house.
So we got ready, I ran into the Northern to buy a hopefully appropriate gift and we guessed which house it was based of the description. Thankfully we were right but I figured that even if we had been wrong the people would have been able to direct us. Everybody knows everybody here. Finding a gift was frustrating. It was all really overpriced junk (not to mention the limited options) and not having ever seen this girl, I had no idea what she liked. Anyway I found something with Disney Princesses and figured I couldn't go wrong with that (turns out I think she got two of the same). Next time we go home I will be buying a few boy and girl gifts in Benjamin and Nathan's age brackets.
The actual party went well. Very simple in the way parties used to be. No over-priced venues, no pool, no gymnastics, no reptiles or bouncy castles, just kids, hotdogs, jello, cake, a game with prizes and presents. Oh yes, and party hats - can't forget the party hats. Benjamin and I were both shy (I'm glad we had each other ;o) but we had fun. Benjamin was happy to play with a few of his friends from class and I got to meet a few mothers. One was very nice and we chatted, another friendly but reserved and the third basically wanted nothing to do with me. She wasn't mean but when I introduced myself she just kinda grunted something like a hello - she didn't tell me her name. Oh well. It didn't phase me any. Some of the women must feel like I'm intruding sometimes, but Benjamin WAS invited. His name was on the envelope.
The homes here are small. They are all up on "stilts" because of the frozen ground (not sure if we are in the perma-frost or not - I'll have to find that out). So to get into every home, you must go up some stairs and then it's a small bungalow. Usually open concept with a kitchen, dinning area and living room, and then down a hall you have some bedrooms and a bathroom. Of course, no basement. The decor is often similar to what homes looked like 20 -30 years ago (actually this home reminded me a lot of my grand-maman Tourangeau's house back in Alfred, ON). On the refrigerator there was a big picture of some men all around an obviously dead polar bear (it had been shot several times). It was taken 5 years ago the mom explained, and it was her father and brother who shot it. On the wall there was another framed picture (8x10 I would say) of a young boy holding two riffles... Fascinating.
I'm very glad to have been invited to this party because birthday season is upon me for my boys (Nathan's being the first on Feb 28th - turning 4!) and now I can have little parties for them. They will be so excited!