the wheel turns

It was my luck to have spring and summer babies. If I'd had them in fall and winter, I'd tell you that was my luck, too. It's good luck to have babies, no matter what season, no matter what age. And, this spring, my youngest babe turns 25. Yesterday was her birthday.

So of course we celebrated. Someone wrote her a song... years ago actually, but now it is recorded. And framed. 
I wanted to include family who couldn't be with us on this day. If they'd had the chance, or if they were still living, they would have come to our little house to celebrate. Life is so short, isn't it? 

So I pulled out the Trabuco Canyon honey I bought when we last visited Zach in California. I took the marmalade jar from its special spot -- it belonged to my mother-in-law for so long, and before that to her mother -- and filled it with confectioner's sugar. I put two sticks of butter into the butter dish that had been my grandmother's -- the real Miss Eula -- and imagined my father, as a boy, helping himself to some hand-churned butter from that dish.

I used the Georges Briard cake pedestal that Hannah and I found at our local antique store. I put a carrot cake on it, and frosted it with cream cheese frosting. My mother always wrote on our childhood birthday cakes, but I opted for big numbers for a big birthday, as I no longer have children at home living out their childhoods.

I did, however, buy butter pecan ice cream, which was my mother's favorite. Hannah had no preferences for this birthday meal or cake, which left me free to remember our collective past in calling up this meal and those who now loved or had loved us. I loved doing this. 

You can see a bit of Albert Einstein, a painting by artist and friend Kate Fortin, in the chair behind the cake... not that Albert is a relative, but he's family of choice, I suppose, and certainly Kate is. You also can't see the family photos that grace the bookshelves, but they are there, lending their presence to the preparations.

So I set the table with the china my mother had given me. For flower vases, I used the blue bottles I had scavenged with Jason long ago.
I brought my mother's candy dish into the dining room (this room was my office until recently... more on that soon!). And I reverently put on the sideboard Hannah's other grandmother's little dish that she had given me before she died -- oh, how Juanita would have loved to have seen Hannah turn 25. How she had loved that child!
Our birthday dinner? Waffles and bacon! For many years, we made our big meal of the day in the afternoon on Sundays, and then made waffles and bacon for supper. I have fond memories of Hannah and I measuring and stirring while the bacon popped and we discussed the important events of middle school, while Zena, Warrior Princess whooped it up on television nearby. Ha!

Jason and Stephanie brought fried chicken. We joked about chicken and waffles while we poured the orange juice and took the biscuits out of the oven and started buttering them. Hannah put herself in charge of watching the waffles. Jim scrambled some eggs.

We had little cottage industries going on everywhere in the kitchen. There wasn't a green vegetable in sight... and wasn't that just like a perfect childhood Hannah meal? Why, yes, it was.
Someone's second helping. We won't say whose, but we are proud of the industry!
And then it was time to blow out the candles on the cake.
Meanwhile, someone ELSE flitted from window to window, flirting with the outside cat. Can you believe how much he's grown?
Into the evening, there was talk of birthdays past and birthdays to come. Look carefully and you will see that we are about to welcome another little girl into our family. Abigail Grace will make her appearance any day now, as soon as she says it's time. And look: she is already surrounded by family. Family of choice, family of chance, family from near, family from far, and family from long ago as well. She is already part of history. She is already part of our storytelling.
I love our stories. I love what it means to be family. It's like Uncle Edisto says in Little Bird: "Open your arms to life! Let it strut into your heart, with all it's messy glory!"

Which, to me, means laughing and celebrating, and also struggling and figuring it out, and giving each other lots of space to find our ways, both together and separately. It means coming together, again and again, with a whole lot of history and willingness and forgiveness and grace. Grace. It's a whole lotta grace that keeps us together as well. Grace that leads to peace.
Peace to you and your families this spring. Peace to our family, as Hannah enters her 26th year, as Abbie enters her first, and as each of us, in all our stages of messy glory, finds ways to celebrate who we are. May we always find joy in the continual, changing, amazing discovery of one another.

Shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace, peace, peace.


  1. Uncle Edisto's is my favorite line of all from Each Little Bird That Sings, not only because it is so true, but because it is so big-hearted and whole-hearted.

  2. My library aide and I LOVE this post...what a special day with many special touches!


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