I woke up early to sun streaming through the window. The previous day, it had called for rain, so I quickly checked the updated weather report on my phone. Even with the forecast showing a 40 percent chance of rain later in the afternoon, I was still optimistic, and shot out of bed, eager to get started. I had been planning this day for weeks, yet there was so much left to do. Desserts to make, games to set up, banners to hang. And a birthday girl to kiss good morning to! Luckily, there were lots of people around to help, and we were off and running in no time.
With Daddy and Papa setting up carnival games, Aunt Amanda and Andy blowing up balloons, Lindsay assembling strawberry shortcakes into tiny mason jars, Nana wiping down tables and me whirling about, completing tasks halfway before abandoning them for something else I suddenly remembered to do, it was 4 o’ clock before I knew it, and guests would be arriving any moment.
After going upstairs to get Penny up from her nap, putting her into her pink gingham party dress and bow, and coming back downstairs, I heard the unmistakable sounds of heavy rain pouring down. I could control a lot of things, like having the dessert table set up just so, but I couldn’t control the weather, and tried not to be disappointed. Like a typical summer day in South Carolina, however, the rain came out of no where but let up just as quickly, and we were able to enjoy the outdoors once again.
Penny was pleasantly surprised to see the familiar faces of all the friends and family she loved so much, and enjoyed being passed around for kisses and cheek pinches. She feasted on fried chicken and corn on the cob, and soon it was time to blow out her very first birthday candle.
With Penny waiting patiently in her high chair surrounded by smiling faces singing “Happy Birthday,” I slowly walked over with her cupcake, a lone flickering candle stuck into the pink frosting, holding back tears all the while. After I presented her with her cupcake, helped her blow out the candle and cheered, we all watched to see what Penny would do.
In true Penny fashion, she took her time assessing the situation. After looking up with a surprised smile at Dad and me, as if to say, “am I really allowed to eat this entire thing?!” she very delicately stuck her pointer finger into the cream cheese frosting and brought it to her lips. Taking it a step further, she bent forward, and without picking the cupcake up, she licked the top of the frosting like a little lizard. After lots of laughter, I decided to help her out a bit and peeled the paper wrapping off, then broke the cupcake up into pieces so she could dig in. And dig in she did!
Following dessert were presents and more play time, and before we knew it, all of Penny’s guests were gone. She went to bed happy and content, a belly full of cupcake and a smile on her face.
After the remnants of the party had been cleared away and the sun had set, we headed outside and lit one glowing lantern to commemorate Penny’s first year of life. We watched it float up into the night sky, getting smaller and smaller until it was nearly indistinguishable from the stars. Much like the day itself, the year had passed by so quickly, yet was full to bursting with so many wonderful moments and memories.
I imagine this is how we will feel with every passing year- sad that it has come to an end so fast but grateful for all that it brought us.