By the time you get as old as I am, birthdays are really not something you feel like celebrating much (except that they are much better than the alternative!), Another year older, more wrinkled, another pound(s) heavier...less energy, more aches and pains... need I go on? This summer has been a particularly difficult one - the ongoing renovation of our rental house has left no time for camping (which we love) and our usual week vacation at the beach (which is my life preserver all year long at work!) Honestly, I don't know where the summer went. Which brings me to my birthday, which is August 5. I was expecting to spend the weekend finishing up he last touch up painting at the house and maybe have a nice dinner on Sunday. With Colleen in Florida, Young Gavin in Rockville and Katie in Columbus for her pediatric rotation, I could not have the thing I wanted most, which is my family all together. With a big family, a birthday is so special when everyone is around- lots of laughing, teasing, extreme badminton or board games, off-key singing, and tons of food.
Well, we started Saturday by hading over to the rental to finish up some work, but we were determined not to spend the whole day, so by 1 PM, we headed home. We have a family wedding coming up this week so the afternoon was spent looking for a dress for Molly (not only a notorious picky eater but a notoriously picky dresser as well!). When we got back, we took Bridget to work at the restaurant, and came back to the house to figure out dinner.
My first hint that something was awry was when Andrew came and picked up my big crab pot, saying that he was cooking crabs at his house for his friends. Then, when I asked my husband if I should pick up the hamburger rolls for dinner, and he said no. Now, usually anytime from 3PM to 6 PM on any given day Gavin will ask what's for dinner at least 2 or 3 times- it's his way of hinting that he is hungry. But since he was totally nonchalant, so I sat in the family room, and looked through some cooking magazines, and enjoyed not having to do anything... when in walks my daughter's boyfriend with a bouquet of flowers, and behind him... Katie! All the time, my kids and husband had conspired. Andrew and his friend came in with a box of crabs they had steamed, Katie brought a beautiful carrot cake that she made totally from scratch (Pictured right, from Alton Brown's recipe with her own orange-zest cream cheese frosting), and there you are... while we weren't all there, my house was full of the noises that make me really want to celebrate my birthday - laughter, joking, teasing, hugs, too loud conversation. So instead of an elegant, candlelit dinner, with crystal , and pressed linen napkins, we ate off newspaper littered with piles of blue crab carcasses, passing a roll of paper towels.
I could write that I saw the sunset off a sailboat on my birthday, or had dinner in a Tuscan villa, or fresh-caught fish at Fisherman's Wharf. I could have climbed a mountain, or jumped from an airplane, or played baccarat in Monaco to celebrate that milestone (it would make for more interesting reading, and prettier pictures). But my birthday was not about being in the most exciting place, or sophisticated place, or exotic place, but instead, being at the best place... with love, and laughter, and fun, and family.... and the greatest of these is love.
Above: The perfect burger that we finally had on Sunday with fries and fresh corn (This one is Bridget's)