The Birthday Party To Start All Birthday Parties


Dear Blue,


It is your 363rd day on this planet. Two days ago, on the 361st, we celebrated your 365th day a few day early. That number 365 is really important, because it translates to a much shorter, much simple digit: 1.


One year old, Blue. That’s crazy. More importantly, though, it’s a huge milestone, and so we celebrated accordingly since after all, your first birthday does more than commemorate your life. It highlights the all important fact that your parents were able to get you to this point. In other words, you survived.


So we planned a huge party. Your mother had been itching to exercise her party planning skills, which had laid dormant for the last few years since our wedding, and so she spent weeks piecing together party favors, organizing invitations, finding a venue, ordering food, etc., etc.


I did what any wise man does in this situation. I did what I was told to do.


It was an exhausting day, Blue. We hadn’t been so busy since our wedding, and we learned a few valuable lessons about birthday parties for babies. They’re double exhausting because not only did we have to plan the party and then make sure everyone had a good time, but we also had to watch you.


Before starting, however, we needed to get the food. This was my adventure for the day, skipping across town in a very carefully choreographed route. The first stop was spring rolls. No problem there. Your nana and I strategically placed the rolls and the complementary tubs of sauce in the back of the car so that there was no danger of any thing sliding off the seats. Then we made our way to the deli market.


A line of people busted out the door, but luckily I had a receipt that read PAID FOR. I walked up to the counter, showed it to a guy behind the counter, and he said, “Meet me around the corner.” For a brief moment, I felt like I was in a mob movie.


Your standard sandwich is less than a foot long, and has a thin layer of meats, cheeses and vegetables in between two slices of bread. That’s a sandwich. Your mother sent me to pick up a sandwich, but this is not came out the deli door.


What came out was a monster, a six foot long meat anaconda so huge it needed to be carried by three people. A long plank of cardboard helped keep it from collapsing on itself and strings were wrapped around it at one foot intervals to keep the slabs of bread safely on top of the meat.


After we wrangled the sandwich into the car, we headed to the third stop, another Vietnamese restaurant and more spring rolls. This was relatively uneventful, except for a rare sighting of a ginger. That’s right, Blue. A ginger. By the time you’re old enough to read this, I don’t know if there will be any more of them around. Yet we saw one in San Gabriel, which was even more exceedingly rare. Think of Los Angeles as a series of islands. In the vast ocean of the San Gabriel valley, there are only a few remaining archipelagos of white people. San Gabriel the city is mostly Asian now, so to see a ginger here of all places was equivalent to seeing a unicorn.


I considered it good luck for your party.


The food all safely procured, we headed back to meet you and your mother at the venue. People arrived, food and drink were consumed, and you had a grand time, a felt orange crown tied proudly around your dense tangle of curls.


Towards the end of the party, we had a short ceremony. In Korea, it’s called the Toljabee. Basically, parents lay out a series of items on a mat, and then the baby crawls or walks to the one that tickles his fancy. The one he chooses is supposed to indicate his path in life. A needle and thread means they will have long life. A rice cake means they will be rich. A bow and arrow means they will be a soldier. Etc, etc.


We are not Korean, so we did not feel compelled to stick to the rules in the strictest sense of the word. So you could choose from such items as a ruler (academics), a pocket knife (engineering), a notepad (writing), a harmonica (music) and a batman cape (vigilante superhero whose parents are NOT at all killed by a random thug). So after explaining all these items, you were placed on the ground. With great zeal, you crawled over to the line, stopped right in front of the lineup, took a breath, and then chose a ceramic jaguar whistle, which symbolized exploration.


Which completely fits, considering you are now ready, willing and terrifyingly able to climb a couch during a game of peek a boo.


We love you, Blue. Happy 363rd day!






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