Saturday, September 09, 2006
Matt greets Jerry's wolf, Lawatchee
(which means in Lakota: Always Hungry)
Birthdays are a big deal in my family. It's a celebration of increasing Earth's population by one. We do this a lot. When I was younger, and my family went everywhere together, people would invariably ask if we were Catholic. "No, just careless," was the stock reply, though I have it on good authority from my mother that everyone after my brother John was a gift from God because she and Dad were doing their darndest to NOT have any more children. Chalk my family up to an incredibly potent mix of genetic fertility and an omnipotent sense of humor.
So every month or so, we have a birthday party. Sometimes it's a big deal and everyone comes together. Other times, the honoree requests a quiet birthday (no party), lunch out, or no recognition at all. Everyone is free to choose what kind of birthday they want. But it will be recognized - even if it's just a card in the mail or an email saying "I'm glad you're alive."
Today, we're having a party! My brother Matt is turning 32. It's hard to believe that he's getting so old. Mostly because being my4th brother down it means that I am becoming ancient.
John and his three kids have come from Atlanta/Macon, Jerry is going to take a break from towing football weekend accidents or scraping drunk students off the highway, and Z-boy and I will be driving out to the farm. MIA will be brother Andy, who's on duty (policeman), and James, who also has to work. My husband is working the big game today and I won't see him until after midnight. Dad is firing up the grill (now that he's got BBQ figured out), Mom is putting together extras like potato salad and beans and salad. I made the cake.
When I was younger, my grandmother was the official cake-maker. I don't know exactly what she did to her cakes, but most of the time they were wonderful. Occasionally there would be the cake that resembled a brick with icing, but on the whole, they were great. Sometimes someone else would make the cake, but Grandma was the baker. She died a few months after Z-boy turned one and I have been the cake baker ever since. She didn't pass down recipes or tips. Just a reputation and a cone-shaped piece of metal, held together with a tack.
Grandma was a master of (drumroll) the circus cake. When her children were little, she made the cone to bake the top of the tent. It was ALWAYS a big deal when you got a circus cake for your birthday. I can now appreciate just how much time and effort went into the circus cake. When my son was 2, I thought I'd make him a circus cake. It was then that I discovered that it takes 1 1/2 cake mixes and two tubs of icing. It also requires toothpicks (tent stakes) to hold it together. After the trauma of making a circus cake by myself the first time, I didn't do it again. So when Mom told Matt that I would make his birthday cake, he very hopefully asked, "Circus cake?" I couldn't say no.
The "Famous" Circus Cake
Make a wish, Matt!
This is Matt's first birthday since he moved back. At the beginning of the year, I'm sure he had no idea that he would even be here for his birthday. He was married and living in Connecticutt. Then they broke up and he moved back home. And I'm sure he had no idea that his birthday would be as good as it was. He has friends. He has family that loves him. He has a job. He has a life. And Matt is the kind of person who recognizes the blessings in his life. For his birthday, he was surrounded by them. Including circus cake... his one spoken wish for his birthday.
Happy birthday, Matt! Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us!