I’m going to indulge in a little grumble about cancer and its effects on my social life. Carolyn turned one-year-old yesterday, and because of the rehab, recuperation, etc., we weren’t able to have a proper party for her. Typically, we have a baby luau for our children’s first birthday party. When Jing and I were married in Hawaii, we were told that the baby luau was a tradition that arose 200 years ago when Hawaii was colonized by westerners. For reasons unknown to me, the colonialists decided that Hawaii would be a sensible place for cattle plantations, because of convenience to nearby markets, I assume. In any case, cattle came in and ate all the tall grass that had been traditionally used to thatch the roofs of domiciles. So, the native Hawaiians got cold leaky houses right about the same time westerners were bringing loads of diseases against which they had no natural immunity. Consequently, infant mortality soared, and a child surviving to his/her first birthday was a big deal. Hence the baby luau: a big party for all the friends and extended family to celebrate a tough little kid.
We had baby luaus for both Sophie and Quinn, who are themselves both tough little kids. The nearby image is of me, in costume, on Sophie’s first birthday. Nothing too fancy; just friends and family, and pork products on the grill. Parenthetically, I will mention that someone brought norovirus to Sophie’s luau, which wrecked havoc among the childless guests at the party.
We also merge the baby luau with a Chinese tradition of placing the baby in the middle of a room surrounded by symbolic objects. Whichever object the baby seeks out is supposed to predict his/her future occupation. Sophie chose a whisk, which we presume means she’ll be a cook; Quinn chose a toy truck, whose meaning is a bit ambiguous.
This year, we couldn’t do any of these traditions, since I’m still doing full time rehab and didn’t get it together to make invitations or marinate pork ribs. Jing is in full time child-care / husband-care mode and trying to clean up work obligations in parallel, which precluded her from running the party. Which is a real shame, because I really like this tradition (fuck cancer, indeed).
This image shows Carolyn eating her special lunch noodles, which is right and proper for any Chinese girl on her birthday (eating long noodles leads to longevity, obviously). I’ll admit I stole some of Carolyn’s special longevity noodles, figuring that she’d be happy to support the cause, if she were in a position to understand the stakes.
Alas, you only have your first birthday once, and cancer messed up Carolyn’s party. I refuse to concede happy moments like my daughter’s luau to cancer. So, perhaps we will re-schedule June 2, 2016 as Carolyn’s baby luau. She can gain an extra year of growth and wisdom before she chooses her symbolic object and occupation. I’ll make the ribs and wear the grass skirt. BYOB.