My youngest turned five this week. It’s an odd feeling to realize my last baby is now officially school-age. I thought about trying to throw a big bash to mark such a momentous occasion, but with all the fullness of life we have going on right now that just wasn’t gong to happen. Fortunately she had other ideas.

Birthday traditions in our family are pretty simple. At first it was a matter of being newly married and poor, then having small children and poor. But then it became something so powerful and precious that we could not change it. At first it was a box mix cake decorated the best this unartistic mama could manage in the birthday kid’s favorite theme of the year. Five dollars worth of tablecloth and paper plates to match the cake. Family only. As the kids got older they started wanting to help with the cake, and the tradition evolved into me doing the baking and providing materials for a cake topper while they decorated the way they wanted. However the cakes might have looked to outsiders, to the kids they were birthday masterpieces.

This past December our tradition underwent a new evolution, one that is proving to be the most precious of all. My oldest learned to bake, and with that knowledge begged to make her younger sister’s cake from scratch. She baked, the birthday girl decorated. Today we had the third birthday since this new development. Our days of boxed cakes are over for good. My days of creating the magic are over; I’ve been relegated to the rank of supplier. Instead, I watch my children excitedly creating their own magic, working together to produce a vision of their own imagination. I get to watch them make unforgettable memories.

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