Emma turned four. She’s been eagerly awaiting this day since August. As the last birthday of the year, she has to watch her sisters get their parties first, steeping in the mild jealousy that only a middle child could truly understand.
My dad came to me two weeks before and said to make sure that Emma got a birthday party too, as her sisters did. The truth is that we were always going to have one, but organizing these DIY parties really takes the steam out of us parents who already work hard on the weekdays. Nica gives up several hours of sleep to make all the drawings for decor, the craft activities, and the very specific piñata requests that Emma had been filing for what is literally months. I handle all the food preps myself, which are admittedly much simpler, but still require about 5 hours of work to make happen, plus the labor of love that is hand grinding for the liters of PURP cold brew. With the support and and encouragement of my father, we put the plans into action. Thanks, Pops.
It’s not easy to live an Instagram-worthy life. It’s real work. Some people think that all that style is superficial and fake. Those people could not be more wrong. We work hard so that our family can experience real beauty in the regular. And all that beauty that’s captured in the photos of our IG feeds, maybe they’re just photos to most who double tap to “heart.” But kids — at least my kids — don’t have smartphones. Their feeds are in their minds and are called “memories.”
Some of my earliest memories are from my own 2nd birthday party at my grandparents’ home in Magallanes. I still remember my brother smacking my birthday cake, a masterpiece with a big hot air balloon. I remember my cousin Miel running away from whatever wrath his mischief brought on from my other cousin Rina. Photographic evidence tells me that Rina also cheated in the apple-on-a-string game. There was a merry-go-round. These are good memories. I know I was loved.
And that is why we do this. It probably won’t always be this way. One year, maybe even 2017, we may take the easy path and go to a fast food instead. But for now, we’re happy to have simpler garden parties where we can host more of the kids’ friends of all ages. Where children have space to run and crash into each other. Where we adults can peacefully sip lemonades and watch.
Thank you to all who came to Emma’s birthday party. Thank you to those of you who didn’t complain that our simple afternoon tea party “handa” was pretty basic, coz some actually did.
Thank you to JC, who baked the two fresh strawberry shortcakes with very, very short notice and brought it all the way over from the other side of town.
Thank you to Tito Ralph of Archery Attack, who supplied Bubble Sports zorbs and bow and arrow sets. The boys didn’t feel out of place in this tutu-themed event! The memories that your games create are so much fun and so unusual that they are guaranteed to imprint magical memories. Keep making magic possible, brother.
Thank you, Ninong Peppy for always taking great photos. Emma will see these photos years from now and remember the feeling she had on that day. I’m still very sorry about shooting you in the neck with an arrow. To be fair, I was aiming at your face. 😂😂😂 Let’s go head-to-head in the Archery Attack Arena soon and you can exact revenge.
Thank you to Tito Raf, who brought balloons and made balloon animals for all the kids. Such a thoughtful surprise!
Thanks to Tito Chris, a.k.a. Captain Jungle Gym, who drove us out to dinner after the party (he couldn’t even attend) to make sure that Nica and I got some much needed chill time.
From myself and on behalf of all three kids, thank you to Nica, children’s party superhero. You make flowers bloom and hearts sparkle quite literally. You listen to and remember what Emma desires, then work weekends to make them happen. I don’t know any woman who loves her family in the way that you do. Amazing, amazing, Wonder Woman.
Thank you to God, who in His goodness gave all of us to one another.
Thanks to you all. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing at that party was to give a little 4 year old the memories and love she deserves. We raise her together as a community, and know that she will grow into a better person because of the love you show her.
Happy birthday, Emma. Remember this day and with it, always know that you have a family. That you have friends, cousins, titos, and titas who want to bring the same joy into your life as you do to all of ours.