Friday, 22 November 2013

#363: Anniversaries: The Bitter and the Sweet

November 22.

Now there is a date to conjure with, especially for those of us who vividly recall the events of 50 years ago.

Such was power of the Kennedy mystique, that even out on the Canadian prairies we were shocked to learn of the news from Dallas.  It was a 9/11 moment for my generation. (And for the record, I was having lunch in a U of A classroom with my friend Alexis Dryburgh when another student burst through the door shouting “Kennedy’s been shot!"  It is a testimony to the significance of the pronouncement that I do not remember what I was wearing.)

But, powerful as this memory is, I would not likely have commented on the 50-year anniversary except that falls on a much happier occasion: my grandson Erik’s birthday.  Our busy little boy is one year old today.

We won’t be there to celebrate, nor do I think his parents are planning a birthday extravaganza.  The little guy had his big moment a few days ago when he and a group of year-old friends participated in an over-the-top shared 1st birthday experience—a cake smash. 

I had no idea what this entailed, but it is apparently the coming thing for 1st birthdays.  The ingredients are simple: one or more babies clad for cake combat (diapers and not much else) and an iced cake (nothing too special because this cake is destined for a bad end).  The instructions are equally basic: put the babies on the floor with the cake and let the smashing to begin. 

That is the way a cake smash is supposed to unfold.  But there is no accounting for baby behaviour; at Erik’s event most of the birthday celebrants were not terribly interested in the cake, and the mothers, chagrined at this turn of events, had to demonstrate technique.

Curious Erik, however, apparently needed no such urging.  He was covered in cake in short order, to my daughter’s dismay. (Jenny says she felt somewhat embarrassed by his enthusiasm.  She had been a bit iffy about the cake smash from the get-go.  She didn’t even take photos.)

I thought about this shared birthday party on Wednesday when I went out with my ladies’ hiking group.  One of the members had very much enjoyed a 75th birthday planned by her grandchildren.  “There were kid games and kid food!  It was a hoot”, she enthused.

I was 19 when Kennedy died so I have a significant birthday this coming January, and I can’t help but think Erik should be the party planner.  We would have a cake smash of course!  I can imagine the scene: Nancy and her age mates (I could invite my entire book group) attacking a supermarket sheet cake emblazoned with an appropriate message: 70 SUCKS!

Take that, symbolic representation of my aging mind and body!  SMASH! SMASH! SMASH!    

Aaaah, but could we do it?  Could we wantonly waste food and create a sticky mess that someone would have to clean up?  I don’t think so.  We are, after all, children of the 60’s.  We still hold on to Kennedy values.

What would Jackie do?

I rest my case.