A Birthday for Papa

August 18, 2010 at 9:43 am 1 comment

We stepped off the world yesterday to celebrate the birthday of my partner and the girls’ papa. He’s important to us and we all look forward to ways we can make him happy on his special day. And for some reason, for the girls, this means constructing things out of recycleables. I’m not sure when this tradition began, but each year I have to suppress all of my cleanly urges as the girls take trash out of the bins, spread them all to kingdom come, cut them into bits, and plaster them all with entire rolls of tape. The end result is an assortment of sculptures, the sort that require a forgiving perspective and lots of imagination. The cold-hearted anti-clutterist in me sees unwieldy structures that don’t stack easily on the shelf, or tuck compactly under the bed, but are so filled with sentimentality that I am not allowed to immediately return them to the recycling bin. But the springy jumps of excitement on the birthday (almost) make it worth it. Nathan is basically trapped in the bedroom while the girls randomly scream:





Meanwhile I am circling the table trying to tidy, prepare the house for the birthday, nearly scrapping several objects that turn out to be crucial to the hodge-podge, rickety, birthday sculpture. When he is finally allowed to emerge, the girls squeal with delight, sure that he will nearly faint from the beauty and amazing-ness of it all. Together they present the scene. This year involved a tea box with wings in which a paper version of Papa rattled about. With the help of a grubby hand, the vessel took off over a chunk of egg carton, circled the birthday flower bouquet and various handmade cards, and landed at a dock of cereal box nestled at the base of “The Tower of Papa I Love You”, which was constructed with several plastic cups and a berry basket. At the end of the presentation the girls had a proud look of shazzaam, now that was goooood.

And he loved it. Of course he would.

I celebrated by writing a card that might make him cry, making a dessert that is to die for, and a bouquet from our garden. His garden really, the one left to struggle through a summer of construction, without his care, with weeds, and little water. I picked through the debris of lumber and insulation, through the poky unidentifiable invaders to find black-eyed susans, sunflowers, yarrow, ferns, and one enormous blood-red day lily, open for this one special day.

And he loved it. Of course he would.

But I want to do more, to set him free from any concerns, to float him on a raft of pleasure and peace. I want to watch him love his girls without knowing we only have a day left before one, or two, leave for their other house. I want to see him dive into the river with abandon, again and again, without glancing at the leaves that dance above the current to see if they are changing to red, signaling the end of summer. I want to sit next to him at dinner, loving his hands, his face, the sound of his voice, without hearing the tick of the clock that tells us tears and bedtime are close at hand. I want to orchestrate perfectness, to freeze all the good and bar all of the trials and tribulations of life from entering the scene.

I want to serve this to him on his birthday and be able to promise him that, because I love him so, I can maintain it.


Entry filed under: birthdays. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jessi  |  August 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I often find that desire to spare my loved ones from any of the hardships of life (especially on birthdays but also in general). But I have learned over the years that though we may seek to sheild them from life’s trials, the trials are what make life worth living and what bring us closer together over time.
    This is a beautiful declaration of your love for Nathan and I think we can all associate with that same desire to preserve the simple beauty and pleasures we find in life.
    I’m sure his birthday was amazing and I’m sure your love for one another will only continue to blossom more as time goes on.
    Happy birthday to Nathan and happy celebration of your love!


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