Okay, so I know it has been FOREVER since I have posted. More about that later, but over the past few days I have again felt the prompting to write, and tonight provided the perfect story.
Sara Maria, our oldest, turns 17 this weekend so we are celebrating tonight. Through the years we have developed birthday traditions that we all hold dear – siblings decorating the dining room, a special meal (Crook’s Corner Shrimp and Grits, Garlic Ginger Green Beans, and ooh-ahh … Flaky Biscuits from a CAN), and a special cake (Esther’s Orange Marmalade Layer Cake), but between dinner and cake, each member of the family shares what they appreciate about the “birthday girl or boy” and then give their present, or presentS.
In our family, Bill’s birthday is in December followed by Grace and Adelyn in January. So Katya has seen this routine play out several times already and has quickly caught on. We have seen that gift-giving is perhaps her highest love language as we have been the recipients of all sorts of presents in the past few months, so the excitement has mounted as she has plotted her birthday gift for Sara Maria this week.
Now, in order to understand Katya’s present to Sara Maria, I need to fill in a few details. First of all, Katya is successfully potty-training (Thank you, Lord) utilizing the tried-and-true behavior mod strategies of a sticker chart and prizes. Last week, she earned a big stuffed horse. Since Piper has been instrumental in Katya’s success, I brought her home a pack of Tic-Tacs – just to say, “Thanks!” Piper, in true Piper fashion, shared them with Katya who decided that Tic-Tacs were the perfect gift for Sara Maria and elicited my help in making a plan to secure said Tic-Tacs.
Secondly, Nana (my mom) who is the most organized woman on the planet and perhaps the most thoughtful as well, sent Valentine’s cards up for the family which arrived sometime around February 10th. Into my cubby they went awaiting our Family Valentine’s Celebration Dinner. (Can you tell we love a party?) Well, since I’m not the most organized woman on the planet, one of the kids discovered the cards just THIS WEEK. So, we got to celebrate Valentine’s Day all over again. In each card was $10. Katya immediately put it in her sparkly purse seeing this as the means to buy Tic-Tacs for Sara Maria, which leads me to the third factor.
We have been so blessed by our relationships with three young women over the past few years – Maddy, Molly, and Beth. These dear women are like daughters to Bill and me and like older sisters to the kids. They have eaten dinner with us, taught the kids music lessons, done laundry, stayed in our home when we’ve been out of town, helped me clean, fix dinner, and have drunk countless cups of tea around the farm table in our breakfast room. I’ve even road-tripped with them to PA where I spoke at a Women’s Retreat and they provided the music. So, when it’s time for them to clean out their closets, we are often the recipients of their bounty. When Molly moved to Kansas City as an IHOP intern this January 🙁 we received several bags from her and in one was a sparkly purse, which Katya claimed for her very own. It has carried little Breyer ponies, Polly Pocket, and quite a collection of hryvnia, euros, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, and now a $10 bill.
On Monday, Maddy arrived with bags and boxes from Beth who is preparing to head to Africa 🙁 to serve with our dear friends, Eric and Holly and Special Hope Network. Now, all the girls are snazzy dressers, but Beth has some shoes. Like the sparkly purse, several particularly snazzy pairs were claimed by both Piper and Katya for what I thought was their dress-up collection.
Fast forward to today. As promised, I took Piper and Katya up to Earlysville Market to purchase the aforementioned Tic-Tacs. But, alas, they did not have the red and orange Tic-Tacs that I had brought home for Piper, and green ones just weren’t as appealing. BUT, they did have gum and Mentos. So, after much deliberation, Katya purchased a package of each with the intent to keep the gum for herself and give Sara Maria the Mentos.
So, tonight Piper shared with Sara Maria what she really loves about her sister and gave Sara Maria her gift (a book chair so that Sara Maria doesn’t have to waste unnecessary energy holding her books, and a pack of gum – also purchased at Earlysville Market) . Then Cameron shared what he really loves about his sister, and gave Sara Maria her gift (a Breyer “Minnie Whinnie” that he purchased from Shenanigans, and a pack of gum). Are you seeing the trend? By this time Katya was beside herself ready to give her gift. She brought over a gift bag which I knew was WAY to big and too full to hold a mere pack of Mentos.
Grace asked Katya, “What do you like about Sara Maria?”
Katya’s response – “I don’t know.”
We don’t have this part of the tradition down, but we definitely have the gift-giving. So, Sara Maria opens up the bag and pulls out a pair of cream and gold high heels. “Perfect for the prom!” Next comes another pair of black patent leather high heels. “Perfect for … something!” Now, you need to know that Sara Maria, up until last year was most comfortable in camo shorts and an over-sized sweatshirt, but she is transitioning into a young woman. However, Beth’s shoes are about two sizes too small …
But, here’s the kicker. I fully expected Sara Maria to next pull out the package of Mentos, but she pulled out … a stick of gum. I thought, “Isn’t that sweet. Katya gave her a stick of gum from the pack she bought for herself.”
And then Sara Maria does not pull out a PACK of Mentos, but one Mento, then a second Mento, then a third. Instead of the PACK of Mentos, she has given Sara Maria three INDIVIDUAL Mentos!
This explains the surge of energy observed about 5:00 this afternoon … Surprise!