When Adam and I first talked about Charis' birthday, I had a deep sense of sadness. For one, we had only moved 2 weeks previously, and it was hard to think about our family missing her first birthday . Especially when I knew Charis' grandparents would have loved to be at.
The second reason I felt discouraged about it was that the apartment we live in doesn't have an oven (very few asian homes do - mostly they do stirfrys and cook over stovetops). How I was ever going to bake a cake was beyond me.
We chatted about what we'd like to do, and Adam recommended asking the expat community if there was someone who would cater the birthday.
Now, a little caveat: If we were not in Indonesia, and if we knew where we could even buy certain items, certainly Charis would have had a normal middle-class American birthday, complete with a boxed cake and frosted with whipped cream (I much prefer whipped cream to traditional icing!)
But as we talked about her birthday, I was thinking about the 4 times during the previous weeks I had walked home from the grocery store utterly discouraged because I couldn't find an item that would have been terribly simple to find in the US.
I knew that any kind of birthday would be anxiety producing for me if I tried to do it the way we would have in the US.
So I talked to some friends, found an expat with a catering business and we were doing great! The caterer offered the name of a woman who made cupcakes and I was very impressed with the photos she sent over. We decided on an owl theme (Charis still adores her Mr. Owl lovie).
We decided on inviting the whole expat community that we're a part of because we knew Charis wouldn't really remember the party, and we knew that we'd feel much more excited about her birthday if we were surrounded by new friends. And boy did we ever!
About 50 people came, all new friends, and showered our little sweetheart with love. The care and generousity of our new friends was overwhelming.
We had lots of fun - balloons, a homemade paper bunting and kids running everywhere!
The surprise of the day was the cake that a coworker of Adam's provided - she had asked about Charis' cupcakes and said, "Oh, I'll get a cake for her!" And what a cake! It absolutely blew me away! It matched the cupcakes perfectly, and was so detailed. I said repeatedly that it would be the nicest cake Charis would ever have for a birthday!