January 23, 2012
Happy 15th, Camille!
Camille, however, decided she didn’t want this sort of throw-down, and opted for pizza and birthday cake with about 40 folks who live nearby. Despite the fact that I was looking forward to being part of the traditional Paraguayan 15 party, her reasoning was solid and I couldn't help but give in to her wishes. She's a very practical girl, and standing around in an uncomfortable formal dress for hours after planning for this party for months just didn't appeal to her one bit. Nor did dancing the waltz and having everyone tell you how you're basically an adult now. So I finally decided to stop trying to talk her into it and just let her choose. It turned out to be kinda fun to show some of our friends how WE celebrate birthdays.
I learned something new tonight about how birthdays are done here, too. I noticed that no one's gift had a card or a note or a name tag on it. Once most people had gone, I asked how we were to go about writing the thank-you cards without being sure who'd brought which gift. What a pleasant surprise to find out that this is not expected, and is, in fact, a bit frowned upon. It turns out that the point is to arrive with something in your hand, something to add to the gift pile. When the party is over, the birthday girl privately opens the gifts. This way, no one has to feel embarrassed if he couldn't bring a nice gift. So it truly is the thought that counts. We're not supposed to try to guess who brought what or thank the people after the party, just accept the gifts and enjoy them. Cool, huh? And if someone has something they specifically want you to know came from them, they can give it to you in person and ask that you open it right then, but this doesn't happen often.
A benefit (for me, maybe not for her!) is that Paraguay does not give driving permits to 15-year-olds like South Carolina did when I had this birthday. Phwew. Bullet averted, for a while longer anyway. Camille has always been mature beyond her years, but I still can't believe my first baby is turning 15 already. She's such a great girl, always looking for ways to serve, always using her gifts of friendliness and hospitality, always sensitive to the promptings God whispers in her heart. She was practically born talking, putting off walking for quite a while because she was content to sit around and chat with people. It's great watching God use her talents and tendencies for His glory, and to stand back in awe of the young lady she's becoming. How proud we are of our quinceañera!