Saturday, March 26, 2011
Birthdays amidst chaos
Over the past couple weeks, we’ve seen life change ruthlessly in Japan. On a personal level, I feared losing my little brother over heart problems. It was a strange, helpless feeling to be able to do nothing for him other than whisper a prayer and care for his young daughters during his trips to the hospital. He’s always been healthy, the one devoted to taking care of everyone else in the family. So it kind of shook my world.
Maybe it’s untimely to start a blog on top of personal and global chaos, but we’re forging ahead. Not because we as Americans insist on living our lives in the styles we’ve become accustomed to, no matter what, but because these events point up what’s most important.
I'll never forget preparing for my youngest's birthday, which happened the week of 9/11. I was a newbie reporter, covering a community candlelight vigil that week. It felt so wrong to stand in line buying candles for the vigil while holding a shiny "Happy Birthday!" balloon. Sometimes our gatherings seem trivial, even disrespectful, against the backdrop of crises, but at times like those, it's more important than ever to cling to the core of our existence.
Over the years, I’ve had to remind myself of that again and again, whether dealing with life-shaking events or plodding ahead with work. I'm now a full-fledged grownup who knows myself pretty well. As such, I've become fully aware I’m the type of person who gets immersed in whatever I’m doing, be it job or school. Like the work horses from our past, I put on the blinders and don’t look left or right as I obsess over finishing a job. It’s sometimes easier that way, but pretty soon you realize it’s been days or weeks since you’ve given the proper attention to the people you love.
That's another good reason for blogging with my dear Daughter. Because she lives in the Chicago area and I’m in mid-Michigan, I don’t see her nearly as often as I’d like. So our “Gifts, gatherings and gusto” musings are one more way to keep in touch. And not to brag, but she’s such a unique soul, an untamed spirit who surprises me with her newfound devotion to all things domestic, that I'm thrilled to share her individuality with the world. Not many girls want to write a blog with their moms, but combining our different styles should be interesting.
Like me, she’s inherited an old-school work ethic. This blog will be good for both of us, a reminder that we aren’t living to work, we’re working to live.
Which is why I’m getting online this morning to figure out how to make a cherry pie to celebrate the birthday of David, my beau. I’ve done tons of baking in my life but cherry pie has never been my thing. Since it’s his only request, how can I refuse? Especially since he made the most amazing German chocolate cake at my request when I was the birthday girl. So I'm off to shop for ingredients, experience a new baking adventure, then run all over two counties. (By the way, another blogger here has posted a recipe that sounds good: http://lifeincharente.blogspot.com/2011/03/cherry-pie-and-butternut-soup-st.html. I'll let you know how it goes.)
Thank God for birthdays and holidays. If we didn’t have days of celebration, it would be way too easy to get caught up in our daily checklists of chores. Celebrations help us rip off the blinders and remember who and what is important in life.
P.S., Daughter, what kind of birthday cake did you make my son-in-law?