Dan Turns 21

Three cakes. That’s how you celebrate turning 21 – Dan style.

It’s a momentous event when your firstborn turns 21. Dan knows when his birthday is. He can’t tell me in words but he can find it on the calendar. He has this unique ability to know exactly what day and date it is. Dan’s grandmother has a perpetual calendar and sometimes she forgets to turn over the pages. It doesn’t matter how many days or weeks it has been, Dan will turn over the pages until it’s on the right date. He is always right.

In the weeks leading up to Dan’s birthday, we prepared him for the event. How old will you be? This question is usually met with silence, so then we ask … what number will you be? After a few times, he learned that the answer was a very loud 21. I’m not sure if he quite understood the traditional significance of turning 21, but he knew it was a big deal.

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The first 21st celebration was in Adelaide. Since my side of the family are spread out across Australia, it is difficult for us all to get together in the same place, at the same time. As we were gathering in Adelaide for my Dad’s 80th birthday, it made sense to celebrate Dan’s birthday too. His first birthday cake was a lovely rainbow sponge. I was amazed at how light and moist it was, even with all the layers of colour. Dan even had a few early birthday presents: a puzzle mat and a 1000 piece puzzle of a lawnmower race, which was a bit like a Where’s Wally picture – thanks Uncle Dave!

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Back in Toowoomba, I organised a cake for Dan to have with his friends at Yellow Bridge on his birthday. They were all very excited about Dan’s birthday. I think birthdays are a special celebration at Yellow Bridge. After all, it is not every day that you get to have cake. This time Dan had a large butter cake decorated with blue and silver stars. One of Dan’s friends has an amazing memory for birthdays. He only has to ask you once and he will remember your birthday and take great delight in reminding you when your birthday is coming up. Dan’s birthday was never going to be a secret!

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On the weekend after his birthday, we had a party for Dan at home with his family who live in Queensland. Dan was so excited. He gave everyone a hug when they arrived and took great care opening the presents. I am always impressed at the way people put a lot of thought into a gift for Dan, thinking about what he enjoys rather than what’s traditional for a twenty-first. Then it was time for cake number three – a delicious mud cake, also decorated with blue, silver and white stars. It looked fantastic, thanks to Kim from Abbolou Cakes who did a wonderful job on both cakes.

Dan’s life journey has been different. While the milestones and achievements are eventually reached, the timeframe has often been different. But a twenty-first is a twenty-first, no matter where you are on the journey. Dan may not be making important life decisions or moving out of home tomorrow, but we have had a wonderful celebration of his life with the people he loves. And you can’t get better than that.

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