The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers .
Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!
In the short story “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, the main character Rachel reflects upon the notion that even though one turns a new age on one’s birthday, bits and pieces of our old ages remain with us – so, we may turn eleven, or thirty eight, or whatever – but ten year old you, the twenty year old you, is still very much there: you are the sum of your experiences, after all. We read this story every year in my class (it’s such a wonderful sixth grade story!), and discuss it extensively. But, I think I understand it best whenever I celebrate the birthday of one of my children.
Today is my youngest’s birthday. She turns 19, which is hard to believe – the years seem to have flashed by so fast. Last night, her brother and sister took the train in from New York City to help us celebrate the way we always have: the birthday child’s favorite meal, cake, presents. The kitchen was a loud and messy place for most of the evening, as we wove in and out of each others’ paths, cooking, stirring, mixing, baking, and sharing the latest news in each others’ lives. The birthday girl decided to take on the task of baking the cake – she is our resident baker-in-chief, after all. And, as I watched her measure and mix and get things “just so”, I saw the little Olivia, learning how to bake for the first time. Standing on her booster seat, the mixing bowl about as big as she was, I could picture the way she held tightly to the wooden spoon and stirred with great determination, her brows knit in concentration, her lips pursed. She had the same expression last night, and even the way she organized her task was the same as in years past – ingredients arrayed in order, and everything measured and ready at the start.
At the dinner table, sitting right next to me, I saw flashes of Olivia’s past ages, too. The time she refused to sit on her booster seat anymore, the “I am a big girl now” era, and made her way through dinner with her chin defiantly resting on the table, which she was just able to reach. I remembered the first tries with mastering the fork and knife combination, with bits of food flying off the table as she tried valiantly to get her eating utensils to do the job they were supposedly designed to do.
And, when the cake finally made its appearance, all aglow with 19 candles, Olivia’s face shone with all the delight it had at her very first birthday. Her “Smith smile”, inherited from her father and grandfather, just as wide and gloriously happy as that first birthday smile. She puffed up her cheeks with the same glee, delighted as always that she managed to get them all out in one go, or, as four year old Olivia would have said: “I huffed and I puffed and I blew them all out!”
The cake was lovely, the evening was special – and we got to celebrate our 19 year old of today, and remember all the years before.