Friday, February 25, 2011

A Birthday Affair

     Sam's handmade gift for Bryan was a chessboard, chess being the current game du jour.  We only have three other chessboards, collected on travels or as gifts, but not one handmade.  Sam sawed scrap wood into a square, and painted on the chessboard pattern all by himself.  Then he came looking for help, wondering how to make chess pieces.  He thought maybe he could carve them.  This was one week out from The Day, and as nice as that would have been, I thought it might be too challenging, with no prior carving experience. Oh, to be young and dream big!  Old and jaded by too many frustrated projects, I suggested oven bake clay.  While I read aloud to them, the kids rolled and cut.  There followed a flurry of new birthday ideas for Dad.  Arden was sure Dad would want a "chest" set from him too, but we talked him down to a set of checkers and a shared board with Sam.  Then Kara dreamed up a tic-tac-toe set and whipped one out of left over clay.

     Dinner preparation was an all day affair.  In the end it was delicious and we arrived at the Double Chocolate Torte already fully satisfied, but there's no skipping birthday cake.  The torte was rich.  How rich?  Nine eggs and a pound of chocolate went into that torte.  Bryan asked if it was related to fudge.  We liked it, but in the end decided next time to go back to a true cake with flour, light and fluffy.  The backwards seven?  Someone dyslexic put that on the cake, and we laugh and carry on.  Actually she's not dyslexic, but it makes a mom wonder.  Really, the number in reverse is there so that you won't be able to tell how old Bryan is, a distraction technique.

     Bryan is the kind of wonderful Dad who opens all these sweet surprises and praises every one.  He calls for quick games with the givers.  The Little Giver has been so excited all day he could just hardly keep the secret.  The Medium Giver has a whole stack of gifts, and confesses to Dad that they didn't cost much, and cries out with dismay, the paper tic-tac-toe board wrapped in the gift was wrinkled.  But Dad's the kind of man who can smooth out paper.  The final touch to the chess set was a storage pouch, designed by Ally and stitched by Sam, who doesn't often sew.  This is how we celebrate birthdays here, nothing expensive, yet all priceless, to honor a Dad who we love more than any other.

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