Monday, February 28, 2011
Brazilian Birthday Parties or Don't Dress like a casual American...
Our lovely friend Ana invited us last weekend to her house for her daughter, Sophia's 2nd birthday party. We gladly accepted the invitation knowing that any time at Ana's is a great time and since I had been to countless 2 year old birthday parties in the States, how could I possibly embarrass myself?
Oh where, oh where, shall I begin? Well, as anyone with a lick of Brazilian sense will tell you (and as I have seen on just about every etiquette booklet), DRESS UP.
These women, these Brazilian women are like Wonder Woman, stunningly beautiful, long flowing hair, stunning dresses, sparkling jewels, and high heels...oh lordy, the high heels. These ladies never sweat, never look like they've been attempting to herd preschoolers all morning, never seem ruffled in the least.. clearly, i am NOT Brazilian. I live in a perpetual state of frump...and I like it. I think that a tank top, a knee length skirt and Havaiana flip flops are, in fact, the Mother's Uniform. We would call my style (that's pushing it of course, to call it style): Obviously Pacific Northwest Americana. Here in Brasilia..they would call this look 'The Emprigada (translated: The Maid)'.
We arrived 45 minutes AFTER the time we were told to arrive and were still the first guests there. Yes, Brazilian parties start late and go long. We entered into Ana and Jim's already opulent (yet completely comfortable) home and were greeted by the kind of finery that I may have last experienced either at my Senior Prom or maybe my Wedding...actually no, that's not true, my wedding was not nearly as fancy as this birthday party.
We're talking balloons galore, tables and tables of candy and sweets, a trampoline, a blow up bouncy house, a 'gladiator style' blow up stage for knocking each other down, video games (ala arcade), and life sized cloth dolls of all of the characters from Tinkerbell. Did I mention the giant tiered (plastic for show) cake on the table in the dining room with the huge foam flowers all around, complete with more Tinkerbell themed creatures? It was amazing.
What was even more amazing was that instead of looking like a mommy about to chase a preschooler all over a party, the guests of this suare were all decked out as though they were headed to the Oscars instead of a 2 year old's birthday party. Note to self: In Brazil, Birthdays Are A Big Deal. Every woman there was wearing a silk dress or sheath or cocktail attire. Every one had impeccable make up, jewelery, and those crazy heels again.. 4 inch stiletto wobbly ankle breakers...and yet, not a single lady wobbled, not in the least, while I attempted to stay upright in my flip flops...
In the end, I learned a valuable lesson for next time (which is kind of my life story... attempt activity, mortify self, learn for next time.) which is 'do it up' for any occasion. I also learned that gracious hosts will still love you even if you look like you're there to take out the trash (in comparison), and will graciously explain to their Brazilian relatives in Portuguese that this unkempt looking woman, ambling around, muttering in some strange dialect is not to be feared or reviled but simply an American, as of yet, uneducated in the ways of the Brazilian Glamazons.
I can't say for sure that I'll ever learn how to be 'Glamorous', but I will say that I will give it a shot, I'll try not to be quite so nervous in showing my own skin, in reveling in what God gave me, and PERHAPS I'll try the heels more often.