when beauty laughs
At a hospital close to my home, new parents receive a digital recording of their baby’s first cry. Capturing that wail–one that carries both powerful potential and phenomenal relief that this tiny new being has arrived safely–is a matter of technology plus timing.
It’s the latter that makes the sound bite I wish we all had in our baby books pretty much an impossibility. I want to listen, again and again, to that first laugh. Something magical and mystical and marvelous happens in that wholly unpredictable instant. It is a sacred sound. And that’s precisely how it’s treated by my friends with Navajo origins.
They celebrate with A’wee Chi’deedloh or “The Baby Laughed” ceremony. My friends Will and Gail, Navajo by adoption, introduced me to this delightful concept a few years ago. The rules are this: whoever is blessed enough to make a baby laugh for the first time is also the designated host for a party marking the moment. And not just the host, but also the party planner and payor for the occasion. Knowing how I love the idea, Will recently mentioned I might like to become a Facebook friend of Nicole, a young mom here in Denver who had posted that a laughing party was in the making for her little girl, Nizhoni Skye.
In Navajo, Nizhoni’s name means pretty or beautiful. It was her dad Michael who sparked the first laugh and thus will be chef-in-chief at a cookout for family, close friends and godparents. Nicole explains, that the party is held “…so that the baby will be selfless and wanting to help others for the rest of her life. Her dad will help her pass out small bits of rock salt to all attendees.” That “first gift” baby Nini makes sets in motion her understanding of the natural flow of life–that what we give returns–very much a Navajo principle. And by tasting the salt crystals, guests can renergize their own good character and sense of gratitude.
Nicole continues, “It’s also said that she will take on whoever’s personality that made her laugh. If she is anything like her dad, she will be very charismatic, talkative and very witty!”
And while I do not know Nicole well (at least, not yet 😉 ), I’m guessing that Nizhoni will carry her mom’s energy and kindness into the world, too.
Happy happy joy joy.