Seven Day Celebration

There are an estimated 7.5 billion people in today’s world. There are so many people of different ages, races, and backgrounds that it is hard to keep track of everything. That is why God put us all into small groups, known as “families,” and out of these groups are smaller sub-groups known as “immediate family.” Immediate family is something that can make someone happy, sad, or mad. As for me, it makes me happy. I love my family and all the support I get from them, and the memories I have made with them. Most of our memories are made by our family traditions. One of our traditions is doing a “birthday-week.” Birthday-weeks are made up of different activities, experiences, and celebration that last a whole week.

Birthdays are considered sacred in my family. It is not just another day to be lived through. We feel it deserves more than day; it deserves a whole week. The “birthday-week” begins the week before the actual birthday and usually ends with the birthday itself. At the beginning of the week, we wake the birthday person up early, have one of his or her favorite breakfast foods prepared, and then we tell that person what the plan is for that day. The plans for the first day, and any day of the week, could be anything. It all depends on whose birthday is being celebrated. For my sister, the plans could be going to a museum or old missions; for my dad, we could go to the movies or camping; for me, it could be the aquarium or the beach (I am the only family member with a birthday in summer.). The whole family definitely loves to travel. My sister and I may not have left the country yet, but we both want to (to visit). It has always been my mom’s dream for us to travel. She likes the saying “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. In the middle of the week, we spend one day doing the “Which List.” It is a list made up of single letters, and there are always as many letters as however old the birthday person is turning. So if the first thing on the list is “Which D______,” it could mean something like “Which Dead tree,” and that translates to “which book.” That means we get to go and pick out a new book from the bookstore. Every birthday week is memorable no matter whose it is. Since each one is unique, it is a new experience for the whole family.

Throughout the week, there are little gifts hidden throughout our house and different places we go. Then, on our actual birthday, we are awoken early in the morning by the rest of the family singing “Happy Birthday” and spraying silly string. Then, two members of the family head downstairs while the birthday person and one other person stay upstairs together. The birthday person gets to decide who goes and who stays. For example, if it is my sister’s birthday, my mom and dad head downstairs and decorate while she and I hang out and watch a movie of her choice or play a game or whatever she is in the mood to do. Then we head downstairs, and the main gifts will be inside Trader Joe bags. The birthday person will be handed ping pong balls, and s/he must throw the balls into the bags to earn the right to open them. Then we spend the rest of the day watching movies of the person’s picking and making favorite food for him or her.

The birthday-weeks have become more and more different from one another as they have become more personalized to each person’s likings. When my sister was younger, we would stay close to home and watch movies and play games. But as she has grown older, it has become a new tradition for her week to be a traveling one. She likes to see all the old missions scattered around California, so we will travel to them and make stops along the way at interesting places. For me, I still like staying close to home, so we will make one day trips out to the beach or the park. Every person’s week is different and unpredictable – except for my mom’s. Every year, for her birthday, we drive up to Big Bear Lake and spend the whole week hiding out in her favorite cabin, watching The Lord of The Rings saga and the Back to The Future trilogy. Even though there is a set agenda for my mom’s week, we will still find a way to make it different for her. We will take her snowboarding or walking through the forest. No matter what, we always try and keep it fresh for the person.

A year is a very long period of time, during which many traditions can be made. The birthday-week is a tradition I will always remember and will pass on to my kids someday. Birthdays are sacred to my family, and like this quote says, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” That is a quote I hope to keep in my life, and my family for years to come.

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Food Art

The words “art” and “artist” are generally thought of as painters or sculptors. There is nothing wrong with this way of thinking. Painters and sculptors do make art, but the word is not only for them. Art is something that results from people pouring their passion and imagination into a particular pursuit. One activity that some people have spent their lives perfecting and making into an “art” is making bread. The people who have truly mastered this only did so because they knew the step by step process to making bread—regular bread. The process of making bread is preparing the dough, baking it, and enjoying it.

When making bread, or making anything, there are ingredients and tools needed. If a shed is being made, wood, hammers, nails, and doors, etc. would be needed. The same goes for making bread. When getting ready to make the dough that will turn into bread, the ingredients are the fallowing: unbleached white flour, baking yeast, salt, water, a bowl for mixing, a knife, foil, and an ungreased baking sheet. The first step is to combine four cups of unbleached flour, one teaspoon of baking yeast, two teaspoons of salt, and one-and-a-half cups of water in a mixing bowl. Once these ingredients are in the bowl, the fun part begins. The ingredients must be mixed by hand. Hands are the best tools to make sure the ingredients become one big ball of mush and squishiness. After everything is properly mixed, the newly formed dough must be covered in foil and left to sit. This will allow some of the moisture to escape, and the dough will dry a little to maintain a ball shape.

Once this process has taken place, the dough should be formed into smaller balls. This will be done by covering hands with flour to ensure the best results. Place balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. The knife should be used to cut three small lines onto the top of the dough; not only does this make the bread look more appealing, it allows the steam to escape during baking. While this whole process is taking place, the oven should be preheating to a hellish temperature of four-hundred and fifty degrees. The dough will sit and bake in this ungodly temperature for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, the baker will have mercy and lower the temperature to three-hundred and fifty degrees and let the dough continue to bake for another thirty minutes. It is recommended to place a small dish of water alongside the cookie sheet in the oven during baking. This allows the outside of the bread to become a golden crust of deliciousness.

While the bread is baking, it is fun, though not necessary, to wield the knife like a sword and pretend to fight off invisible monsters that reside in the kitchen, or to write an obituary dedicated to the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Once the bread is done baking, it should be taken out and left to cool for a few minutes. It is not good to cut the bread before it is cool because the inside will still be so hot that it will be sticky. The bread is ready to eat when it sounds right – it should be tapped on the bottom and should sound hollow. Then, the feast of ages may take place as the bread is finally ready to be consumed with honey, jam, butter, or whatever tastes best.

This process may sound like a simple recipe to most, but it is more than that to others. Some people have made the baking of bread an art form. Some add new ingredients and make many different types of bread. M.F.K. Fischer wrote, “The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight” (Fischer). Whether they have a family recipe or personal style to making it, those people who spend their lives making bread and turning it into a family business or tradition are artists in their own way.