In the summer of 2011, when Eva was four months old, we celebrated her birth at a red egg and ginger party. The party was held in Napa, California, where my parents are from and hosted at the church that my grandparents helped to build.
A red egg and ginger party is a Chinese tradition in which a new baby meets the family and receives a name. Originally, the family didn’t meet and name babies until after the first month because the mortality rate for infants was so high that it wasn’t worth the trouble until they had been around for a while. These days, that cushion of time gives the parents (and grandparents – the traditional hosts) time to plan the party. It also means that you aren’t passing your newborn baby and their underdeveloped immune system around to everyone you know the first week of their life. Since Eva was four months old, she was much more alert and full of personality than she would have been if we had held it earlier, so we’ll probably wait at least that long for baby #2.
The red egg and ginger party was pretty exciting for me, because it’s such a celebration of the addition you’ve made to the family. I suppose it’s probably how other people feel about their baby showers. I didn’t have a baby shower because Eva arrived the week before it was supposed to be held, but showing her off at the red egg party was much more fun than I think a shower would have been (especially for her vaguely socially-anxious mother).
Traditionally, red egg and ginger parties are all about the food. Eggs are boiled and dyed red to symbolize happiness and fertility. Ginger symbolizes both the roots of the family and the energy of life. It was also traditionally given to the mother after the birth to strengthen her, so I got a big helping of most of the ginger dishes. There are other foods that I needed to eat for symbolic reasons, including pigs feet and whiskey chicken, but we didn’t have those at the party since they’re really just for the mama. Instead, we served the traditional favorites that we have at most celebrations: long noodes (long life), shrimp chips, stir-fry, and the barbecued pig that big celebrations demand.
We didn’t have a formal dessert, so I dipped oreos in red candy melts and scattered bowls of red candies on the tables. We also had plates of cupcakes with red frosting and a few red frosted cakes scattered here and there. I really like dessert displays being set out on the dining tables instead of on their own cake tables, because I feel like it makes it feel more like a family party. I also think people are more likely to eat the sweets if they’re right in front of them. Nobody wants to get up to get a second slice of chocolate cake at a party, but if it’s right in front of you and there’s plenty to go around…
Random mom moment: I couldn’t find red sprinkles in July for the cupcakes so I bought a couple of red, white, and blue sprinkle mix and picked out the blue ones by hand. See, you just never know the underlying vein of crazy that might be accompanying the event you’re attending…
I also blew up a bazillion red balloons and created my first balloon arch since we didn’t have much else in the way of decor. It looked a little bit like a car dealership, but people definitely got the red theme and Eva was pretty impressed with them. The red Mickey balloons in the photo at the beginning of this post were from a party pack I received to promote Walt Disney World travel. We threw them in because we like to have at least a little touch of Disney at most of our events. They ended up being sort of fun because everyone wanted their picture taken with them. (Maybe we should just hold the next one at Disneyland…)
One of the best parts of the party was how many people were able to make it. Both sets of parents came out from Utah to be there for the party, so I had members from my mom and dad’s side who were able to meet the baby. Kyle’s parents also flew out and one of Kyle’s uncles drove up from another part of California. Plus, my friend Kate was able to come with her parents, which was amazing because I never get to see her. Kate’s in the army and her parents live in California, so her visits to Utah are brief and far between. Since she’s Eva’s godmother, though, it was wonderful that she could be there to help us officially welcome her into the family.
Eva wore a peach party dress. It was actually a pink party dress that I had attempted to dye red, but my dying skills are pretty lacking. The result was a beautiful peach color – not totally traditional for a red egg and ginger party, but rather becoming on the little peanut. Peaches are a good luck symbol in Chinese culture, because there’s an old folktale where a woman had a garden that grew peaches of immortality and eating one meant that no harm could come to you. So, I suppose that helped me sneak the little peach by tradition.
Overall, the party was lovely and Eva received tons of licee (lucky money) and gifts from party-goers. She also received her Chinese name: “Gam-Sing”. It means golden star, which is touching since we named her after the star Evangeline from Disney’s Princess and the Frog. It was mostly fun just to get face time in with the family I never get to see (especially since a few of them hadn’t even met Kyle before!).
I’m looking forward to the one we’ll have for Baby X this fall. I think we might have it in a slightly smaller space this time, since the hall at the church is pretty overwhelming for casual family gatherings. Or, you know, Disneyland.
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First Book Ever:
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
- Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal
- Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
- Wheels on the Bus by Raffi
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
- That’s Not My Monkey by Fiona Watt
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
- Curious George at the Zoo by H.A. Rey
- Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes
- The Napping House by Audrey Wood
- Olivia by Ian Falconer
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
- Llama Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
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I got up at 3 AM today. I get up at 3 AM almost every night. Laying around in bed all day just doesn’t take any energy, so I can’t get my body to snap into an eight-hour-per-night rhythm. I wake up tired, but so bored with sleeping (and bed rest and life) that I can’t possibly do it for one minute longer.
I’ve tried to stay positive through this bed rest, because negativity doesn’t do anybody any good. Plus, with all of the scary, it’s good to focus on the silver linings and the little blessings and all that. Lord knows that I’m blessed. I’m 36 days into bed rest today and this baby is still cooking and kicking and growing and being ok. My house is clean, dinner was delicious, banana pancake batter is waiting for us in the fridge, and the rest of my day is filled with movies and creative work and Pandora and then more sleeping while other people take care of my chores and house and kid. Insert picture of lucky duck here.
But sometimes I just…blargh.
This 3 AM thing is the hardest. When it’s dark and quiet and a combo of too early/too late, there’s nowhere to go but down. And I do. I feel sorry for myself at 3 AM. I think about everything that isn’t getting done, all of the things I’m missing out on, how nothing about this baby is certain, etc. I try to cling to that silver lining, but everything turns inside-out in the middle of the night. The fact that I’m getting meals served to me in bed becomes a teeth-grinding need to get up and cook something. Eva being ferried to and from school becomes tears because I don’t get to be there for her preschool “graduation” and the big school-wide party. The cleaning lady gifted to me twice a week by my dad and his wife becomes panic that the house isn’t organized and nothing is ready for the baby.
Give me a chance and I can pretty much see the downside of everything.
I do pull myself out of it around sunrise every day and by mid-morning I’ve usually snapped back into “blessed” mode, but I thought it would be a disservice to present all of pregnancy bed rest as some kind of vacation from life. I don’t want to be doing this. I’m sick of being in bed. I miss my kid. I miss doing things with my husband.
I miss my friends, especially now that visits have stopped. It’s not them, either. Realistically, it’s hard to entertain people in your bedroom. Half the time, I don’t know if the house is a mess, but I know I look like crap and I can’t really do anything and every time I invite people over they tend to bring stuff and I hate to put people out. It isn’t just that I miss my friends – I miss escaping with friends to restaurants and coffee shops and impromptu play dates. Even phone dates have gotten a little hard because there’s no updates and nothing to talk about on my end. I can wait three weeks before talking to someone again and absolutely nothing in my life has changed. I usually don’t even know what day it is. So then there’s lots of pressure on the other end of the phone for people to come up with stories to entertain me. And everyone is busy, which I remember because I used to be too busy to talk on the phone as well. Blah.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you peek at some of the gritty, unpleasant realities of what’s going on. Again, so lucky…but don’t wish this on yourself. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to do this, but this is so not how you want to grow a baby. Honestly, this sucks.