This weeks' episode marked two firsts: my husband's first speaking engagement and our son's first birthday. The first occurrence of any event is the most memorable because it leaves an indelible mark in our memories and sets the precedence for similar events to follow. I was very proud of my husband's courage in speaking about his past and extremely excited to celebrate our son's first birthday! Most people have their favorite occasion or holiday; for me, it’s birthdays because they are a personal holiday celebrating one's entrance into life. We certainly cannot predict the arrival of our last birthday, but we can surely and grandly celebrate each birthday as we are blessed to see them. I wanted our son's first birthday to be a memorable occasion which would set the tone for each birthday to come.
As I began to ponder how we would celebrate Ayden's joyous arrival, I thought about all the things he loves -- swimming, ice cream, snow cones, sailboats, barbeque, and, of course, cake. My family is very close-knit and always enjoys a great gathering, so I certainly wanted to be sure to make this a memorable family occasion. The only location I considered was the water park conceptualized by and named in memory of my dear aunt, Frances Meadows. My aunt Frances was the first woman, and first person of color, elected to city government in Gainesville, Georgia. Her political platform was family based. The Frances Meadows Aquatic Center is a concept she fought for in order to facilitate positive family interaction. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer before the park was completed. While her most championed cause of the water park and athletic facility for families did not come to fruition until after her death, the city thought it only befitting to name the aquatic center in her honor.
As a 7-year-old, I recall receiving my first 50-piece sterling silver tea set for Christmas from my Aunt Frances. That beautiful tea set along with my Easy Bake oven played a pivotal role in spawning me into the Southern belle that I am today. While that wonderful gift is ingrained in my memory, so is her determination and fighting spirit. Aunt Frances was always donned in her sorority's pink and green colors and ready to fight for the causes she believed in. As a child I never realized what a formidable politician she was. As she silently battled cancer, I recall her never missing a vote or political rally. She never complained. In remembering her spirit and love of family, I wanted to bask in the essence of her legacy as we celebrated the first birthday of my first born. While she did not get to see me married or as a mother; I know she was always proud of me. Although Ayden will never have the opportunity to personally know her, I wanted to pay homage to her legacy by having his first birthday party in a place erected and named for someone who dreamed big and stood up for what she believed in.
After we settled on the location, I wanted the party to be filled with all of Ayden's favorites. I wanted to treat everyone invited to a stress free trip on a chartered bus full of treats and all the other things Ayden loves. So I began the menu with Thompson's Barbeque which was the first restaurant table food he enjoyed. His first ice cream cone was from Cold Stone Creamery; so we invited them to serve sundaes for everyone. Lastly, no birthday is complete without cake and since Ayden has brought us 12 months of pure joy, I wanted a custom cake to commemorate each month. It is our prayer that this celebration is indicative of the years to come -- filled with family, friends, great expressions of love, consideration and mounds of sweetness.