Ten years ago, Alex and I had just pulled off a pretty fabulous, handmade Harry Potter birthday for our five year old daughter, in the midst of packing and readying our new home for our move. Forgive me for stating the cliche, but where has the time gone?
Olivia just had her fifteenth birthday and I started the day by giving her a big hug and wishing her a happy day, and proceeded to burst into tears. I only did it that once, though, so I'm going to call that a success. Turning fifteen brings about many changes and I can't help but think back on my fifteenth year, and remember all the growing, the painful separations and challenges of that year. Maybe that's why the tears threaten to flow; I know Olivia is spared much of that heartache and that she will have the support, guidance, a home and a loving family to celebrate with her, the exciting things coming her way this year.
One interesting development occurred on the weekend, when her grandparents were visiting. After dinner, they gave Olivia a long, giant box to open.
That's right, my in-laws gave their granddaughter a shotgun. Why, you might wonder, does a young woman who was raised a vegetarian until about age ten, who still doesn't eat much meat, who cherishes the animals she shares her life with, who has attended numerous peace and anti-war rallies since a small child, who lives in an urban area, why does she want or need a shotgun, of all things? Well, in her own words, it's a skill I want to have, just like I want to know how to build fires. Olivia has homesteading aspirations, as well, and the realities of rural farm life, is that sometimes a shotgun is a useful tool to know how to use. Further, Olivia has a strong sense of personal responsibility, a practical mind and she simply desires knowledge for knowledge sake. (And yes, she will be enrolling in a firearm safety course.) If you had asked Alex or I years ago, would such a gift have sat well with us, we probably would have said no, and it doesn't mean this is a choice everyone has to be comfortable with or accept, of course. However, if we mean to honor and trust Olivia and her choices, we will and do accept it, and are ready to get comfortable with this new pursuit. I am also amazed and grateful that Olivia has grandparents who also honor, respect and support her choices, for that is a very rare and special gift all its own.
Birthdays around here are family days. We like to have a leisurely morning, sitting to a full breakfast at a pretty table and then relish the unwrapping of gifts and later, the cake cutting. This year was unique, as it was warm enough to have windows open, rare for a March 13 birthday in Maine. And daffodils. We always have to have lots, as they are Olivia's birth flower.
Adam had the giggles as he carefully placed his gift in front of Olivia, trying to keep the contents a secret.
Later, the assembling would happen. No one is too old for Legos, especially Star Wars Legos.
After opening some housewares she had been coveting for some time, as well as a sewing machine and backpack (not to mention that certain shotgun from her grandparents), it might have looked like we were ready to pack Olivia off to start her own household. That's still some years from now, we assured her.
The cake came next. Olivia had thought about making her cake this year, like last, but her days ran into each other and the night before her birthday, I panicked and baked her a white cake filled with lemon and coconut. On her day, I iced it in white mountain cream frosting (light and marshmallow-like) and coated the cake in more coconut.
She was happy and the cake came out really well. Big sigh of relief-damn cakes can be tricky.
Following cake, Alex helped Olivia get acquainted with her new machine.
Olivia is looking forward to doing more sewing, especially since she's planning a clothes-alteration day with a friend, soon. And of course, the discussions and sketching has ramped up to full spring-fever pitch for projects and possible room rearrangement ideas. Having tools that foster creativity at our fingertips has that effect on us, I suppose. I think she had a fun 15th and she begins her Driver's Ed classes this week, which is definitely exciting. I know you have so many wishes for yourself, at least as many as we have for you, and I hope many of them come true. Happy Birthday, our darling girl!