|We've never had candles burn down that quickly|
This year, owing to conflicting schedules and the difficulty with getting folks together that comes with kids getting older and life moving on, we celebrated his birthday on the Sunday before. That is, on June 25th. His birthday comes later, but we figured that would work.
It was a nice time. Not a milestone birthday, but a birthday nonetheless. Also we now include our daughter-in-law and her scheduling needs just the same. And that's a nice addition to the festivities.
Traditionally he has been the one to give my culinarily gifted oldest son fits. It's always been tradition for the individual with the birthday to name the meal. For him, he loves picking cuisines to push our oldest to the limits. He has done Indian, Sub-Saharan African, Hawaiian, and British/Irish among others over the years.
This year he was rather late coming up with an idea. He's been chomping at the bit for a promotion. He is already management, but he's eyeing the next rung on the ladder. Therefore he sees working his tail off, taking on as many hours as he can, and working whenever needed as a good way to buttress his resume. Hence the lack of time to think about something like birthday dinners.
Then, at the eleventh hour, he came up with his request - Eastern European/German. That was a new one. With little time to spare, my oldest and I put together a menu. We assumed shoot for English style - but with sauerkraut. Despite a little German in my background, it's never been our cultural reference point. That would be Irish, with some American Indian, especially for my wife's side of the family.
Nonetheless, after a little putting our heads together we came up with a decent menu. Not a light menu by any stretch. Germanic and Eastern European food, let's just say, has a 'stick to your ribs' quality about it. Lots of sausages and potatoes. The focal dish was Sauerbraten, somewhat improvised due to the lateness of the request. It's beef that is marinated for a hundred years, then served doused with a toothsome gravy (Tolkien reference there). Instead, my son cooked it within the gravy to get some of the taste. It worked. Other dishes included the aforementioned sauerkraut and sausages, extra sausages as sides, Hasselback potatoes, a traditional currywurst, stuffed cabbage, pumpernickel bread (not bad with the gravy), proper German beer for those who wanted it, and a delicious homemade apple strudle. As my second son quipped when they walked in the door, he could 'almost smell the fascism.'
Altogether a good day. Sunday itself was nice, with our priest rallying the troops for the big abortion fight here in the Buckeye State, and inspiring the boys accordingly. Plus our most excellent Bishop Fernandes also lit a fire by telling his flock to stop letting the world tell us to shut up. My birthday boy was rather taken by that, having gone through much of his Catholic life without hearing such commitment to the cause of virtue and righteousness.
And, it being his birthday, he was allowed to relax, chill, play games and pick the fun. Including a new game called Go that he received among his other gifts. Apparently it's an ancient game that's becoming popular again. My rascally daughter-in-law was the only one, other than our birthday boy, who knew of it. Making me and the rest of the family of game players feel sheepish.
With cake and deserts and beverages galore, a nice kickoff to the second half. At times like this we realize how nice and precious it is to have my mom with us, and she enjoyed herself as well. Despite her age and cognitive condition, in an interesting twist, she always recognizes her new granddaughter-in-law. Which makes the fun even better. Even if we learned that Eastern cooking requires a monumental level of cookware that will take the next two days to get cleaned.
So there you have it. Not a bad way to get things going. The real Independence Day will be just around the corner, and then comes our youngest's birthday, coinciding with the anniversary of the Moon Landings.
|A spliced picture, because apparently seven people can't sit still at the same time|
Why does our birthday boy put me in mind of Terry Gilliam?