My sister, Helen, has a daughter, whom she named... Helen. I know. It was a totally Cuban thing to name children after their parents back in the day, but that's not important right now.
Technically, she named her Helen del Carmen. So in order to differentiate between them, the family thing has been to call the younger Helen by her full name: Helen del Carmen. Ah... but there are so many levels of differentiation.... and you'd think with there now being two Helens in the family there would be no more room for nicknames, but nooooo....
There are times when my sister becomes Big Helen (which she's technically not) and my niece becomes Little Helen - which is a name more appropriate for a circus midget - meaning no disrespect to either Helen del Carmen or to circus midgets.... is it even politically correct to call them midgets anymore?
Ah.... but I digress....
Today is Helen's birthday.
My niece. Little Helen. Helen del Carmen. Helen dC. Helen Wheels.* Helen del Taco. My Disneyland Buddy.
or just Helen del...
Never mind. It's a Cuban thing. ;-)
Happy Birthday, HdC!
(* "Helen Wheels" is a song by Paul McCartney and Wings which is about
Paul & Linda's Land Rover which they nicknamed "Hell on Wheels,"
but that's not important right now, either. =D)
(Indulge me here while I delight in my grand-nephew, Ben, who is three years old today.)
And like most three year old boys he's got his ..... umm....... opinion about things.
Take Disneyland for example. If you're a three year old boy and you're going to Disneyland, you must dress up. Preferably like a Pirate. Your costume should include a faux-parrot which sits precariously on your shoulder. Of course, the adults you're with will take you to dinner at the Cafe Orleans because that's where they will give you a Pirate-hat menu (they also happen to have the very BEST Monte Cristo sandwiches on the planet, but that's not important right now), and which you will wear the rest of the day at a jaunty angle and all will exclaim at your cuteness.
You must ride around the park on the Disneyland Railroad. This is totally fun because you get to yell, "ALL ABOARD!" at the top of your lungs for the duration of the ride and most everyone thinks it's cute. If you're the adult, do NOT yell anything at the top of your lungs. Just trust me on this one. ;-)
That means I will go out on a creative limb for her and write a haiku poem. Okay. I don't routinely go around writing haikus, (Well, I confess, sometimes I think of them, but I don't routinely write them down, but that's not important right now.)
Katie and I have this tradition:
I write a lovely, and (for me) mentally taxing haiku every year for her on her birthday and she totally appreciates my sense of humor. See how that works?
And because I am not one to break with tradition. . .
Today is my sister's birthday. Hi, Alina! Happy Birthday!
She shares this day with our cousin Ricardo, who still lives in Havana. Sometimes their birthdays coincided with Mother's Day and the frenzy of celebration was mind-boggling.
In this picture, Alina and Ricardo get center stage, although being older, he was quick to understand and act on the blow-out-the-candles part of the photo op. Alina is saddled with a hair bow that really should have its own area code. Look at the size of that thing! She probably couldn't lean forward to blow out candles for fear of keeling over into the cake.
But here's the detail that tells me that it was also Mother's Day: The kids are dressed like their mothers. Notice the girls on the left (cousins) and my aunt holding them. Duplicate dresses. The other aunt on the right (Ricardo's mom) holding Cousin G, matches with her boys. How much fun is this?
I don't know if they do this in other cultures, or if it's just a Cuban Mother's Day tradition, but it's certainly familiar to us, to our family. And okay, I think it's really cool. So would you be surprised if I told you that I make my kids dress like me on Mother's Day? These days we really just kind of agree on a color and end up looking like a "team" of some sort. And I don't think that's a bad thing. Here's the fun part - they think it's really cool, too. (or possibly, I have brainwashed them after all these years...)
This Sunday we are celebrating Mother's Day at Alina's. Which means we will also be celebrating her birthday then, by default. And of course, Team Darby will be there! ;-)
I'm proud of my beautiful sister. She is smart, funny, and caring and I love her dearly. She is married to the Indomitable Steve and has raised 3 incredible daughters, Kelley, Katie, and Natalie.
I'm particularly grateful to her that in spite of sharing a room with her artist sister for 18 years, and being forced to dress alike for quite a few of those, she didn't hold a grudge for very long. =D)
Felicidades, Alina! (we've all voted. you look much better without the hairbow.)
Stuff you learn when you homeschool your kids (that you probably should have learned in high school or college, but were too busy sleeping or pretending to take notes).
For the uninformed: The 300 year old Haiku Poem has it's own discipline. Each complete poem has only 3 lines totalling 17 syllables. The first line must be 5 syllables. The second line must be 7 syllables. The 3rd line must be 5 syllables.
k. so I'm not really comfortable using the term "shout out." I'm kind of culturally irrelevant that way. But she can say it. And it doesn't even sound weird when she does. She's hip and funny that way. Meet my niece, Kelley, who is 24 today.
And I just think she's amazing. But she knows that.
She is the one who calls me "Auntie M."
She was married in May the the J Man. (How am I doing? Am I sounding hip yet?)
He has been a fabulous addition to the fam and has embraced his inner Cubano. I like that about Jay.
She reads my blog, so I wanted to wish her a happy birthday here so she could amaze her friends. =D And I'd just like to go on the record and say that I'm so glad my sister didn't name her Pearl just because she was born on December 7th. Un besote para ti, Kel.