Birthdays are an important family tradition. My entire family comes together to celebrate everyone’s birthday. Not only is it an important source of income (I get a ton of red envelopes on my birthday), but it’s also a significant event for family bonding.
First, we eat. For my sister and myself, our mom cooks an assortment of foods, from chicken wings to deviled eggs. She lays out platters of finger foods on the dining table and huge trays of chow mein. Sometimes, we just buy takeout, or platters of sushi, and instead of homemade platters of food, plastic containers are lined up on the counter.
After dinner, the mingling commences. My aunts and uncles sit at the dining room table talking (practically screaming over one another) while my younger cousins huddle over their iPads to play Minecraft. The cousins who are not yet old enough to use electronics take out their toys and run around the house. My dad soon joins them, pretending to be a hungry monster and chasing them around. The teens retreat to the bedrooms and hide away with their phones.
After hours of gossip, an adult screams “CAKE TIIIIIIME!” and attempts to round up all my cousins from their respective hideouts. Then the photo session begins. The birthday boy/girl sits with the cake for an individual photo shoot and then his/her immediate family crowds around for a family photo. The adults scoot away and whip out cameras while the kids assemble and sing Happy Birthday.
“Make a wish!” is often yelled out by an aunt. My younger cousins lean forward, as if it is their birthday, trying to blow the candles out. The birthday boy/girl finally blows out the candles and the cake is sliced and distributed. My cousins gobble up their slices and rush back into their holes and the adults resume chatting.
These birthday parties are the ultimate family bonding sessions where I can socialize and have fun. (Just kidding, I’m in it for the cake and the money!)
Words and images by Lily Young