At 7:15 this evening the house shook with cheers. Your brother, your father, an aunt, a grandfather, two grandmothers and I rattled the windows.
You didn't mind that we were fully one minute late. You knew we meant no harm. After all, we're not clock watchers.
Nor did you mind that you received only three gifts; though your grandfather had to be talked out of making a 40-minute round-trip to retrieve his overlooked packages.
The party will always be your gift.
The bringing of people together, even when they sometimes feel so very far apart, has always been your gift to us.
After dinner your Ama Linda told you the story of your birth as she experienced it -- in Minnesota, after excusing herself from giving a college lecture for a moment to take the important call.
"When I returned to the room all thirty college students we're just silent, waiting to know. ...
Her voice recreating the emotion she felt nine years ago as if it were yesterday: 'It's a girl!!!'"
We circled the table, regaling you with memories from the days before your memories attached.
Neither your father nor I could remember what the world was like outside on the day you was born.
I asked him if it had been snowing ... like it had been the day before. He didn't know.
He told you about how proud he was as the nurses made footprints. Not of what he'd made in you but in the mess you made of yourself the moment they loosened their grip and you inked each and every clean surface around you, including the hard to reach bits.
Definitely his child.
I told you how shocked I felt, sitting in the examining room nearly 10 months earlier as the doctor worked her magic with a plastic wheel and calculated your arrival a few days before Christmas.
A Christmas birthday? Only four weeks in and already I'm a horrible mom.
You didn't understand the joke. Your birthday has always made you happy ... Christmas 'round the corner or not. Extra presents or not. People singing off key and completely inaccurately about your domicile.
You do NOT live in a zoo.
Not literally, anyway.
The stories kept flowing.
The first time I saw you. The first time I held you. The first time I stared at your face from daybreak until dark. The first time my mother grabbed you away, saying "give me that baby." She never wanted to let you go.
"I had my best Christmas EVER that year!" I told you -- a declaration you couldn't quite believe.
"What did you get?"
"I got to be a mom."