We celebrated Noël's birthday last night, the most recent occurrence of our birthday dinner tradition. While the details change every now and then, the central idea of us getting together to share a meal on the occasion of a family member's birthday.
Just a couple years ago we would celebrate Tynor's birthday in March, Melody's in April, Kellen's in July, and mine in August. Combined with Thanksgiving and Christmas, we had several opportunities throughout the year to gather. I would make some sort of dinner, and then I'd ask what the person wanted as a birthday dessert; the running joke is that the boys enjoyed a yellow cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting so much, we had that for at least a couple years straight. In later years, they wanted me to surprise them with something, and that became part of the tradition.
Our family here in Seattle has grown rather quickly over the past couple years. It started with our cousin Lindsay (April birthday) moving to town from Montana, then Kellen started dating Noël (January), who in turn moved here from Syracuse, and most recently Lindsay's sister Leah (October) moved here with her husband (November) and daughter (December) from North Carolina.
Since there are more people, we've moved towards part of the meal being collaborative. For example, last August we did a taco bar; I made tortillas, meat and fish fillings, and a salsa, while other people brought other taco fixings. Last night, I made lasagna and rolls, while everyone brought salad fixings. There was a lot of passing food around, which is part of the fun. The current running joke is that all the food ends up in front of Kellen and Tynor, who conveniently sat next to each other last night.
The one thing I've been holding onto, however, is dessert. Almost every time when I ask if people want anything in particular, the reply is that I should come up with something. I enjoy both cooking and baking, and have fun trying to come up with a new dessert. Some of the recent ones have been individual baked Alaskas, individual mocha pudding cakes, Black Forest cake, and lemon layer cake. For last night, Noël had initially followed suit and asked me to come up with a dessert. When we all had crème brûlée at Dal Rae for my dad's birthday, she turned to me, pointed to her dish, and indicated that's what she'd like. Knowing she likes pumpkin, I told her that I had a pumpkin crème brûlée recipe, and dessert was set.
Another tradition we have that everyone but one person enjoys is we all sing Happy Birthday. Who's the one person? The one being sung to!
It's always great when we (or as many of us as are available) can get together to spend time with each other. The birthdays give us a good excuse to not let it go too long in between.