After I had children, I became even more aware of the passing of time. In the midst of our busy lives, it’s sometimes a challenge to be present, to really enjoy the moments, the milestones, the miracles.
I’m a firm believer in the power of small celebrations and rituals. They help us to slow down and pay attention, to reconsider the ordinary and celebrate the extraordinary. Rites of passage help us to honor the present moments and also provide us with ways to mark milestones and come together with our communities.
For both my older children I had done “Baby Blessings” with circles of women dear to me. The ceremonies were based on the picture book The Twelve Gifts by Charlene Costanzo. Each of my friends, the real-life fairy goddessmothers, bestowed one of the “twelve gifts” from the book and wrote letters that would be opened upon the child’s rite of passage into adulthood.
I did the Baby Blessings for my oldest two while they were still toddlers. Living overseas, working on the novel, I somehow did not arrange for a Blessing for my youngest. I kept planning to have it on one of our visits home, but that time was always so hectic.
Then we moved back to the States and bought/remodeled Casa del Lobos and life became more complicated and chaotic. The youngest will be four in a few months, and I knew that it was time.
I could no longer call it a Baby Blessing, so what to call it? She’s spunky, smart, and spirited and keeps up with her older siblings (plus she loves blueberries), so I decided to use Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl as the touchstone. Voila! Her Blueberry Girl Blessing was born!
Again I asked women dear to me, this time accompanied by their children, to attend the ceremony dressed in shades of blue and bearing blueberry treats to share. They came with letters and gifts, and we read from Blueberry Girl (I had divided the book up into chunks that each woman read while passing around a bowl of blueberries that my daughter later devoured).
I wanted to include the other children in this blessing, so I purchased animal-shaped watering cans, and after the grown-ups’ blessings, I instructed them to think of happy thoughts and pour the magical invisible blessings onto my 3-year-old’s head. The kids (aged 2-7) performed with surprising solemnity and smiles. It was precious.
At the end, my daughter offered all the participants their own blueberry (blue glass) bead strung on a necklace of hemp as a gift of thanks. Then we shared blueberry mimosas, blueberry tea, cakes, cookies, and fruit. It was short, sweet, and perfect. My blueberry girl finally had her blessing.
As the third child, she has always shared the spotlight (although she has no trouble with getting people’s attention). However this was her special day dedicated to honoring the little person she is becoming, as well as laying the foundation for a circle of women that she can call upon when she gets older. I think she felt cherished and honored, and I hope that she felt a part of something larger than herself.
“Truth is a thing she must find for herself,
precious, and rare as a pearl;
Give her all these, and a little bit more,
Gifts for a Blueberry Girl.”
from Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
with beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess