We returned home to the Twin Cities to celebrate birthdays.
This is how we celebrated Burrell’s 100 years.
We call her our grandmother even though she’s technically my step-grandmother.
Her children went all out. The theme was yellow. There were lots of candles on her cakes of course, though not quite 100. People wore funny hats and we wandered among bouquets of yellow flowers. Friends and family came from all over and she delighted in her grandchildren.
The meal did her 100 years justice. One of Burrell’s daughters and her husband flew up from Florida and helped my godmother prepare the feast, since they love to cook. Chef Jeff, our family’s Most Interesting Man in the World made roast beef with horseradish, homemade marinara sauce, figs stuffed with goat cheese, marinated shrimp, and carrot-apple slaw to name a few.
Others contributed perfectly Midwestern sides like crock pot calico beans and that sweet, mayonnaisey broccoli salad I love that’s dotted with raisins, bacon, and red onion.
Before Burrell blew out the birthday candles, someone asked her to share her secret to life. She responded, “loving,” without a pause. I know Burrell also likes her morning coffee, a glass of wine in the evening, and eating some amount of real butter every day, so I hope those also have something to do with her long, happy life. I’m counting on it.
She used to swim laps in a quarry near her Iron Range home and she still swims laps at the pool, putting us all to shame.
Today, we gathered for my brother-in-laws birthday over steak, asparagus and popovers. Doggies love birthday steak, too.
Living a part from our family and old friends can feel tough, but also makes our gatherings all the more special. We no longer take our time together from granted.
After this weekend of party food, I think it’s time to join the Mason City YMCA so I can try my hand at swimming laps and keep up with Burrell.
Update 1/5/15: Nearly a year has passed since I wrote this post. Burrell’s children are gearing-up for her 101st birthday party next month and we’re thrilled to attend. And we did end up joining our local YMCA. I tried my hand at swimming laps. It’s hard. Really hard. I think Burrell’s got me beat on this one.