Cancelled if it Rains

Months before Zoe's birthday in California we would be planning the big event. Searching out entertainment and determining how many kids would need to be invited so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. It was the our big party of the year; as much for her as the parents. The only problem is it seemed to be getting bigger and bigger and more expensive as we tried to match our friend's extravaganzas.

I heard that this eventually changes as the kids get older, but up until the time we left the parties were quite grand.

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In France I have found the opposite. Between 5-7 days before the big event Zoe comes home with a piece of paper sometimes 8 x11 sometimes 3x5. One line reads. "You are invited to my party, Saturday 15:00 hour." Sometimes there is a picture from clip art or a stamp or drawing. The best one I received had an additional line, If it rains the party is cancelled.

The parties all seem the same whether there are 5 kids or 25. They arrive at 2:30 or 3:00, play outside, have a scavenger hunt, eat candy, eat cake, play some more and go home. No entertainment, no frills and lots of fun.

Last Saturday we had Zoe's seventh birthday party and decided to do something a little different since we don't have a big yard to play in and were going to invite only four other girls. We went to lunch. Reserved in the back of the Salon de Tea was a table for 7 (the five girls and us) with a special cake ordered. Decorated with pointed hats and blowing paper horns into each others faces the girls were having a merry time.

Pizza was ordered, delivered and eaten and cake was served. But no one ate it.

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Jean and I looked at each other. "Do they not eat cake?" "Do they not like the creamy cake made here?" Is this why all French women are thin? I know they love candy, but maybe they weren't used to cakes. It is still a puzzle.  Zoe who especially wanted vanilla enjoyed her cake immensely and that is what counts.

Leaving the restaurant  we walked the group down to the park where they played on the equipment and spent thirty minutes chasing Pantoufle around the trees. She was the highlight and the entertainment. We then walked down to the Valle d' Eure below where there is a great open field and river which is the original source of water for the Pont du Gard aqueduct built by the Romans 1,000 years ago.

For the next hour and half they ran, screamed, traded stickers, ran, screamed, ate candy, ran , screamed traded stickers and so on. They had such a good time being free as birds in this open field.

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I soon realized that I could have skipped lunch and brought a pizza to the park and everyone would have been happy. I thought spending $100 on the party was cheap compared to my usual budget in Marin, but next year I think I will even go simpler and just have them run in the park, scream, trade stickers, run in the park, scream, and eat candy.  What more could you want at seven years old.!


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Zoe and Helene

birthday 8.JPGZoe-Pascale, Marine, Helene, Louise, and Cassandra - membersof the Winks Club

Suzanne Saxe-Roux