The Art of Friendship: Happy Birthday to Me
It's been 61 years coming, but today is that day...only with a new year attached. I start thinking about my new age a few weeks beforehand so it comes at no surprise on the date. Falling between Christmas and New Year's as it does--the Dead Week, I call it--when people are still reeling and resting up...that's a hard sell for a b-day celebration.
But, this year I determined to pull it off in the style of the hospitality I've received in Ghana. Last year my 60th birthday became an all-day fete. This year with some careful planning it became a cozy ladies luncheon in my Goddess Gathering room. As they say in Ghana, "I tried-O!" Which doesn't mean I tried and missed the mark. It means I put my best effort forward and succeeded.
The first round of invitations went out through e-vite and email before Thanksgiving and my trip to N. California. The second round of reminder invitations went out via snail mail to arrive a day after Christmas and before the party. I enclosed the update inside beautiful Adinkra cards to be used later by my guests.
I spent one day at my father's preparing for the goddess gathering party. Half a day I sewed lined pouches made out of the same classic Ghanaian print that the robe I planned to wear is made out of. I added cowrie shells to add weight to the flaps. These became party favors along with sand from Busua Beach and talcum powder blessed by a native doctor that came from the Makola market in Accra. Oh, yes...plus amber-colored beads, a packet of ginger tea, and the copy of Mary Brody's Rx Pepper Soup that appeared in Gastronomica.
The second half of my preparation day I cooked. Even though mother died in 2006, it's still her kitchen to me. With more space and more pots I could make two soups at once: groundnut (peanutbutter) soup from Ghana and a bean vegetable soup in a rich ham stock. Mary couched me on how to make it using her famous pepper soup recipe as a base.
The day of my gathering I did what every hostess does: get ready, enjoy the party and clean up. That made two days to evoke the spirit of African hospitality.
The women stepped into and out of ceremonial space...as if being birthed into the world of ceremony and then back into the everyday world.
The gathering could not have been more convivial. Fabric artist Edna Patterson-Petty. Freida Wheaton. Julia Blevins. Doreen Hulsey. joined in lively conversation and connection even though only two women had met before. Unfortunately we missed our last invited goddess: Linda Jones Hawkins.
How better to celebrate life than with a group of lively women of strong and good heart?
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