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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Brother’s visit, Day 2.

Bourbons tasted: 3

Cocktails drunk: sflthuteen

Glasses broken: 2

When I was a kid, my father took the day off for my birthday every year. And every year we would celebrate my birthday with presents and cake and balloons and fun.

When I was a teenager, my father took the day off for my birthday every year. And every year we would celebrate my birthday with presents and cake and balloons and fun.

When I was grown up, my father took the day off for my birthday every year. And every year we would celebrate my birthday with presents and cake and balloons and fun.

Eventually my husband took over the role of celebrating my birthday with presents and cake and balloons and fun and sometimes horseback riding lessons and paella.

And my father retired, but still calls me every year on my birthday.

I’m 52 now but every birthday I’ve had or not wanted to have has been celebrated in one way or another, many times with Napoleon cake, oftentimes with trips to the zoo, always with people who call and text and email to say happy birthday.

My mother calls me every year at precisely 12:03PM to say happy birthday because that’s when I was officially born.

Ralph takes me to the zoo because I love it and that’s our thing.

My birthday is literally on the opposite side of the year right now, so there’s still plenty of time for you to plan your next move.

But today is my brother’s birthday, and in an effort to do something fun, even in the absence of a zoo, Ralph and I blew up about two hundred balloons, hung marginally less streamers, and made a pretty darn good dinner.

All the points go to Ralph today for coming up with the idea to blow up the balloons with our little reverse-dust-buster-air-blower-thing. He filled them, I tied them, and the floor collected them.

Have you ever tried to teach someone how to do something that is so simple you don’t even think about how you do it? Ralph asked me to show him how to tie a balloon. I tried about ten different times and every time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to tie a balloon. I’d start to show him, then forget, then get it wrong, then try to think about it. The more I thought about it, the worse it got. I had to stop tying for a while then restart without thinking about it. Apparently my fingers know how to do what my brain doesn’t.

As we were blowing up balloons this morning in shades of purple and yellow and green, I reflected for a moment on how easy it is to let the days go by without noticing, and how one day just bleeds into the next without distinction.

Somewhere around balloon 50, today’s word became clear: celebrate.

And for one short day, we did. We celebrated with French toast for breakfast, party poppers during the afternoon, and cake after dinner. We celebrated with a blind whiskey tasting and a walk through town. We celebrated with new cocktails, fresh bread, and bad singing.

Of course I played a little Mamma Mia.

The day was not without drama, because even my brother can’t keep up with my whirlwind sometimes. He was a trooper though, sweeping up flour, washing out bowls, vacuuming up after me then vacuuming again when I shattered another glass.

Have you ever wondered why the word “vacuum” has two u’s? Have three whiskeys and two cocktails and see if it doesn’t strike you as odd, too.

In any case, the bread dough didn’t want to work today and looked so watery that I kept adding flour until it looked too floury, and not willing to risk birthday bread, I mixed up another batch. That required a second set of bowls and an entirely different counter space, resulting in almost as much spilled flour as balloons on the floor.

There’s probably a rule somewhere against having to run around the kitchen cleaning up after your sister on your own birthday.

Things went pretty smoothly after that. Ralph helped me shell crab for the first time in our lives. My brother took the garbage out when we were done. I feel like there is probably also a rule against having to take out the garbage on your birthday, especially when the only reason the garbage has to go out is because it has the refuse from your own birthday dinner.

Bread dough batch number two looked perfect. I had my brother bring my pizza stone from my parents’ attic and was very excited to use it again. I’ve missed my pizza stone. Bread dough batch number two went on the pizza stone and into the 450° oven. Half an hour later bread dough batch number two had turned into a gorgeously brown crusty loaf of bread. I donned my oven mitts and warned everyone that the smoke detector was about to go off, because that’s what it does every time I open the hot oven. It didn’t disappoint.

You know that joke about how someone’s singing can shatter glass?

With the smoke detector blaring in the background and my brother frantically waving a towel at it, I reached into the oven, grabbed onto the rack holding the pizza stone, and lifted it out.

Most of the way to the counter, the pizza stone split in half, crashed to the floor, and the bread went rolling in the opposite direction.

I guess it didn’t like the smoke detector’s singing.

Given my reputation, I immediately yelled, “It wasn’t me!”

Overall I think the birthday was a success. Most importantly, though, the birthday was celebrated.

So many days are like so many others. And everything just blends together into one long, monotone existence. I think we could all use a little bit more celebration in our lives. Gratitude is nice, but celebrating proves you mean it.

Instead of waiting for a birthday, what if we celebrated Tuesday, or 2:37pm, or the moment you finish a 45 minute Peloton ride?

Celebrating every Peloton ride with cake would be awesome and probably counterproductive, but still. What if there was a ballon? Would finishing a ride be a little more fun if there was a balloon at the end? I’m going to say yes.

Celebrate the birthdays and the holidays and the events. Celebrate the big wins and the little accomplishments.

But most importantly, celebrate the days.

They’re going to keep happening anyway, so why not bring a balloon every now and then?

Next time I’m going to celebrate the loaf of bread on the floor, because it’s better than being exasperated about one more kitchen mishap.

And in case there was any doubt, we absolutely picked that bread up, dusted it off, slathered it with butter and ate it.

Photo: birthday balloons covering the entire floor.