Real jewelry AND expensive perfume? You must be Cuban! ;-)

Imagine a beautiful young lady emerging from a giant clam shell a la Botticelli's The Birth of Venus - tastefully dressed, of course, but maybe she could actually get the full-body hair extensions... (never mind.)

Ormaybe the young lovely could be lowered hydraulically on a flower-covered swing, dropping rose petals from a wicker basket as she came forth to greet her adoring minions...

Or picture a sweet, slightly blushing, 15 year old girl in an impossibly frilly white dress and a tiara, dancing with her very proud dad to Sunrise, Sunset (from Fiddler on the Roof).  I can't even think of the lyric without getting all teary, but that's not important right now.

Okay, so given a limitless budget and my fertile imagination I could have probably come up with some some waaay over-the-top quinceañera theme to celebrate Lucy's 15th birthday.  Or maybe not-so-over-the-top, but I know (and she knows) that I'm totally capable of going right off the deep end given the right circumstances.

In our Cuban culture, a girl's fifteenth birthday is celebrated with a bit more flair than others.  It's the equivalent of a Sweet Sixteen, or a Bat Mitzvah, or possibly a Debutante Ball. 

And no, I swear I did not pitch the giant clam shell or the flowered swing, or even the frilly dress, although I confess that I did want her to wear a white dress and (He-lloo...) a REASON to wear a tiara is not to be passed up!

And, well.... I love our Cuban traditions. 

So, we compromised......

I insisted on the party.  She insisted on keeping it very small. (lucky for her, most of my big, fat, Cuban family members were vacationing or otherwise occupied, so the event was small by default which turned out to be perfect.)

So, we had lots of roses (mandatory! thanks, Tia Carmen & Tio Rudy!) but not necessarily just pink....

15 roses

We had treats for everyone, but nothing frilly....

15 treats 

The food was completely Cuban: Lechón, Black beans & white rice, maduros.  There are some things we absolutely, unquestioningly agree on. =D

15 food

Yes, there would be a cake, but it would not look like a mini-wedding cake.  It would have to be chocolate - her favorite.  There was not too much argument there and I went ahead and got the 5-layer one... just to add some height, of course.  ;-)

15 candles

She received some gorgeous REAL jewelry (thanks, Tia Helen!) and fabulously expensive perfume (Thanks, Tia Ofelia!) and of course, some BIG BUCKS to spend at Borders (thanks, Tia Alina!) from her awesome Cuban aunts (my sisters) who totally get the significance of the quince and know how to give the Most Awesome Quinceañera Gifts.

15 gifts

My mom gave her the traditional gold calendar charm she's given to all of her other granddaughters on their fifteenth birthdays.

15 gold charm

Along with some sage advice....

15 abuela

We danced, of course.  Well, we're Cuban... and there was music....  ;-)

15 dancing

And, yes she wore a white dress. (Although, I confess I was ready to let her wear even jeans and a tshirt as long as it was white, but that's not important right now....)

15 Lucy

And so Lucy was able to finally embrace her inner-Cubana and happily join the legion of other Cuban women in the family....

15 women

Now she can confidently say,

"Been there. Done that. Got the tiara." =D

15 girl