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The Big 0-1

thebig01_2.jpgI can’t believe that our son is already 1 year old! It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital and embarked on our parenting adventure.

Although his birthday was a few weeks ago, we decided to have a big celebration for him next Saturday. In my family, the first birthday is a huge, huge thing and relatives come from far and wide to attend such gatherings. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if anyone would make the effort as we now live almost 10 hours away from the rest of the family and winter tends to drag on up north during March. Would people venture out in the snow to drive out of state to attend a birthday party?

The answer is yes, they will. We have 50 relatives that will be arriving next week in addition to local friends that will attend the party. I’m trying to be calm, but it suddenly occurred to me that we’ll have a number of relatives, a bunch of house guests, and a huge party that will be happening in about a week. So, here I sit writing instead of cleaning. Oh well.

We’ve rented out a nice sized room at the community center which only cost $75 for 3 hours. I thought that was a great price–and it also cuts down on the amount of dirt and mess in our house. The community center has a park close by so there will be plenty to entertain the younger children who will be attending.

The menu will be simple and will include fried chicken, sweet potato casserole, ham, seasoned green beans, and salad. Of course, we’ll have birthday cake!

In our family, it’s tradition to make a lamb cake for a child’s first birthday. The lamb cake is just for the birthday child to eat(or smash). The tradition was started by my great grandmother and passed down to all of her children and her children’s children. I still have a picture of my mother with her lamb cake which, according to the note on the back of the photograph, was baked in 1946. My grandmother’s cake was made in 1928.

Because my sisters don’t bake anymore or follow the old family traditions, I baked cakes for their children and took photographs for photo albums when I could. Just last month, I sent a well packaged cake to my sister for her child in the mail as a first birthday gift. Incredibly, only one ear was lost in transit!

My brother-in-law’s family thinks we’re all insane making such a big deal out of a child’s first birthday. They don’t even bother trying to make sense of the lamb cake tradition, and just politely snicker a little bit when the lamb is unfurled with much pomp and circumstance at the party.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s not really about the cake, or the party. Rather, it’s an excuse to celebrate and be together. It’s the comfortable feeling you get knowing that no matter what– divorces, death, recession, depression, war, and whatever else–that first birthday is going to happen. Family and friends will show up–even if it means driving 10 hours, and that lamb cake will be there.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

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