Tuesday, June 19

Sharing Something Deeper

Just a few months ago, I had a birthday. I threw myself a party, using the "another-year-older" excuse to have friends gather for coffee and conversation. So much of our life here is involved in an international crowd and it was a pleasure, a true treasure, to have a house full of folks from all over the world. Really, like my own little United Nations here at my house. People from a diversity of places and backgrounds laughing together, nibbling snacks, drinking coffee; every one of them here because of a connection or a friendship with little 'ol me. What's not to love about that?

Oh, and I have yet to mention that there were gifts too. So you can see why it was just as lovely a day as could be constructed for a girl who had now firmly entered her FORTIES. Among other things that day, I opened a lovely set of bath salts, which I have yet to use as my privacy comes at a premium with a four-year-old in the house; lots of flowers, including an entire basket of hyacinth bulbs which then brought me weeks of pleasure as they bloomed and scented the air with the amazing smell of spring; a hilarious over-the-top sequined cell phone holder, which sadly didn't last long against the whims of curious four-year-old fingertips; and then late in the day I opened this:

I know what you are thinking.

Actually I don't, but I will tell you what I thought when I saw it. Inside my head, there was a resounding 'HUH?' Which was quickly followed by 'what is that? What is it for? What am I supposed to do with it?' I am sure my face registered my confusion--lips pursed, eyes a little squinched--as my brain worked overtime to come up with an appropriate response to this odd gift. Thankfully, the gift givers rescued me before I had a chance to put my foot in my mouth making guesses as to why they gave me doll clothes, and shared with me what it is for. Maybe you already guessed that it is used to cover something like this:

And stands proudly looking like this:

But wait, there's more.

My friends shared with me that the Chinese characters you see embroidered onto the cloth are actually a poem. A famous poem about being far away from home, about homesickness, and about sharing the same moon no matter where we are on the planet, or how far away from our loved ones we are.

It was easily the most meaningful gift I received that day. And as I lovingly dressed the bottle I was once again struck by just how very much the same we all are. At least at our deepest parts. No matter where we come from or what brought us here, we all share the commonality that we are from SOMEWHERE ELSE. And that alone makes us a community.

So I have this perfect conversation piece reminder that as an outsider here, I belong. And besides, this piece makes for an ideal companion to the puppet Andrew made at playgroup. And when I can convince him that neither are playthings, they are displayed on the side bar, reminding me that this life is a good one. Something I surely should never forget.


  1. So I'm not alone after all- from Jennifer, the eternal outsider

  2. That same moon shines on us both, friend.

  3. A very clever idea for a gift. Hope you had a wonderful birthday.


  4. I love original gift ideas! And now your wine bottles won't feel so naked. Bonus.

    ~CableGirl (aka Paige)

  5. Belated birthday greetings! What wonderful gifts you received! Life is good, and good friends the most welcome reminder.

  6. connie-
    It was a wonderful birthday, thanks. I joked after that day that I wished I could have a birthday every month. It was just too much fun to have a gathering like that!

    yup. I think it's good to give wine bottles their modesty.

    Thanks! You said it perfectly. Totally agreed.

  7. jenn, it's lisa...i can't get my google/blogger identity to work.....but i've been enjoying the blog. sam, allie, and syd are doing well!

  8. "No matter where we come from or what brought us here, we all share the commonality that we are from SOMEWHERE ELSE. And that alone makes us a community."

    This struck such a chord with me. I love, LOVE this thought.

    I think everyone feels like an outsider--as though everyone around them shares something that you do not share. This is true whether you're at home, at church, at school, or far from home the way you are. But because EVERYONE feels like an outsider, we all have something in common. It's really a cool idea!

  9. I like the elephant as a bottle cover :)

  10. Lis!
    Welcome, I am glad to know you're here. I miss you much.

    Yeah, and funny how we sometimes miss that community we share because we are bent on being lonely. I have always been a misfit, even long before I was an expat. Likely, you are right in saying that the feeling is universal.

    Yup. It's my favorite house decoration!

  11. I love the dress and the Heffalump!

    We're all here now but headed somewhere else. It's the trip and the friends we make along the way that matter.

  12. Jenn--

    good to be here. I can't believe it has been so many years since Sam hung out with "the Red Guy." I miss your guts


  13. Marvelous! It's amazing how a gift can have such an effect on us, perhaps even more than the giver imagined.

  14. belated happy birthday!
    they look quite a pair. :)

  15. Happy Birthday Jenn in Holland, you have written a warm and wonderful recounting of your party. I loved being 40, and I love being 60.

  16. I loved your post! Happy belated birthday.

  17. jami-
    Ah, I love heffalumps and woozles!
    Agreed, the connection is the thing.

    It's hard to even get the mind around the boys being that little anymore. Kinda miss the power rangers days...

    This was definitely one of those. That's why it has stuck with me and I finally had to write about it to express that very feeling.

    Thanks! They are pretty cute together.

    I appreciate the well wishes, and the attitude about being 40! That's nice to hear!

    Thanks and thanks.

    I think it's grand to look upon. 'Specially that elephant.

  18. Hello Jenn
    What a wonderful birthday you had!
    You live your life fullest with your husband and I think it's the best thing people can do!

  19. I love that - sharing the same moon.

  20. claudie-
    Yes, you are right, I live a full life. Welcome!

    I love the sentiment too. Thanks friend.