Sunday, May 1, 2011

Return Of The Birthday/First Communion Celebration

Keith's young nephew Tanner waited ever so patiently for his eighth birthday celebration one long torturous week past his official birthday. Not that he let on if he was truly bothered....he simply said it was okay if there was no party or gifts. So unbelievably selfless for a young lad, isn't it? We won't mention his whispers to me the previous day telling me what he wanted us to gift him in EXACT detail.

Tanner's birthday fell in with his own First Communion this year as opposed to his older sister Sierra's last year. We celebrated throughout the weekend in the eccentric ways only this clan can.....Tanner did what he could to be patient by kicking all of our buttowkskis in Angry Birds(have I mentioned he's eight? and that it was on my own phone?). He hid in his hamper and chased the dog and watched Spongebob. His mother Kim showed us the result of her handgun skills......just the target, not the gun itself. You go, pistol-packin' Mama! Tanner's father Dave spoke of his affinity for pie and tried various methods of cajoling family members to help him mulch but alas; to no avail. Grandparents Helen and Ken and other family folk would join the Lorentz family for Tanner's First Communion and I would soon be introduced to/horrified by a History Channel show called Swamp People.....it must be seen if just for the wonder of witnessing brothers Glenn and Mitchell. Keith was sadly green in the gills for most of the festivities but, despite missing the church service; we were able to stay for the party. South-of-the-border treats were the birthday boy's chosen fare; so his folks made tacos and Sierra and I had fun making a seven-layer dip. I admired her cooking skills and Sierra replied, "When it comes to the kitchen, I get serious!" Cousin Rhonda brought a luscious strawberry pie. Tanner's cake was another of those soon-to-be-famous half and half cakes...this year it was half ninja strike, half religious message. Speaking of, the celebrated lad was dead on guessing his gift from us and they matched the party theme: a First Communion bible and Lego Ninjas.

Does this family sound endearingly oddball.....or scarily strange? Actually, this clan is blessedly like any other family with its quirks and quibbles. I've sung the praises of this amazing family and its wonderful traditions many times and this was another one of those days. Along with great food, we also revel in the hilarity....laughter is loud and boisterous and frequently out of control and truly, there is nothing better than that. No surprise that once again I was feeling nostalgic but this time and for the first time, the memories that flooded my brain were of Keith's family instead of my own. Watching these fast-growing rugrats running around the house, I remembered my first visit to Jefferson City; before we had even moved to Kansas City. Keith, as Sierra's godfather, would be taking part in Sierra's christening and I would be the photographer for the occasion. I remember the reverence of that significant moment and how startled I would be at how loose everyone got afterward. It was as it still is....the spiritual moments are respectfully peaceful and the party after filled with spirited laughter and joy. Now I look back at those photos....of Sierra as a baby being christened, now a strikingly beautiful girl playing the piano....of young Morgan doing a reading at the ceremony, now stationed in Turkey with the military....and the photo of four generations of Ortmeyer women taken after the ceremony and Grandma Ortmeyer; no longer with us.

I've now been with Keith's family long enough to be able to reflect on my own memories with them......and to learn about Swamp People. Awesome.

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