Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Party like a...slave

When I asked Anaya what kind of birthday party she wanted for her fifth birthday, it didn't take her long to decide. "A Harriet Tubman party!" she shouted. And from that moment on, nothing would persuade her otherwise. (For those of you who don't know, Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who became a "conductor on the Underground Railroad" leading other slaves to freedom, back in the Civil War days.)

Have you ever Googled "Harriet Tubman birthday party"? (I would guess not.) You don't come up with anything useful, I can tell you. (Here's a little trivia: did you know that Harriet Tubman didn't even know when her birthday was?) So I was a little stumped at first as to what to do. I mean, I'm thrilled that Anaya has such a great heroine. I just don't know how to party about slavery.

Then common sense caught up with me. How hard can it be to make slave food? (Cheap, too!) I discovered with very little research that blackeyed peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes featured prominently. So, off we went to the store to get the required foods. I substituted kale for collards, since my kids love kale already (and aren't crazy about sweet potatoes, either). We also had some leftover lentil soup from making lunch for about 15 girls that day. Anaya really wanted a coconut cake (ironic--a white cake for a slave party).

Well, the cake was the first thing to tackle. With a burst of inspiration, I added a handful of chocolate chips and explained to Anaya that this symbolized blacks and whites uniting. Naturally, it all had to be covered with a layer of pink Cool Whip, anyway, but at least I knew what was underneath. A sheet of Diego faces from the cake decorating section of the store (if you don't know who Diego is, he looks like a pretty good slave) and five pink candles completed the cake.

You can see we had a pink tablecloth and pink flowered plates (Sorry, there aren't a lot of slave-themed paper plates out there. Harriet Tubman must have liked flowers, right? She spent so much time sneaking through nature), with pink napkins. We all feasted on sweet potatoes and blackeyed peas (and bread with spreads--not authentic, oh well). Since I had read that slaves sometimes weren't even given salt, I toyed with the idea of not salting the blackeyed peas until after the kids had tasted them. But at this age, the first taste decides everything, so never mind authenticity. We watched Anaya's Harriet Tubman DVD during supper.

Then it was time for the Harriet Tubman game. Never played it? Easy. Blindfold some slave owners (our faithful daddies, Michael Hasel and Alan), put little toys (in our case, plastic game pieces) in several different rooms, and send screaming children to fetch the "slaves" in different rooms and bring them to the safe haven of the dining room table (a.k.a. Pennsylvania). This must be done without being caught by the slave owners, who will summarily dump said children into the "jail" in the living room to await being delivered by other children.

You can imagine it was a success. Actually, you could call it a screaming success.


Heather said...

So glad the party turned out so well. The whole deal was quite creative!! I remember you taking that picture of Anaya and Seth licking the whatcha-ma-call-it. It turned out precious. :)

Long Family said...

This is so funny! Who ever heard of a Harriet Tubman Party? Your little Anaya is just too cute. I think that you did a pretty good job and your game - I wish I could have seen that one!

Jarod said...

No chitlins or pig's feet? What kind of slave party is this?!

Joelle said...

LOL! That is hilarious. What a great idea. You did a great job at figuring out all sorts of great ideas! (And now, people could actually google "Harriet Tubman birthday party" and find good ideas!

Staci said...

I can vouch for the screaming part! I called as the party was "calming down" and it still sounded loud! Such fun and what a great idea for a party!