When our eldest son was small, he couldn’t say ‘Grandpa.’ So for 22 years my dad who lives in Vancouver, has responded to ‘Dampa’ and always will.
It was Dampa’s 70th birthday on Monday. I had planned (before Dr. Bonnie’s set of November ‘new rules’) a very intimate dinner for 8 people, with live music and a few other surprises arranged (distanced). My dad is a musician and while he would have loved a raise-the-roof party, all of his favourites were accounted for; his children, his grandchildren, a fire in the fireplace, music playing and his favourite foods on the table. It was sure to elicit a proclamation of ‘magnificent!’ as he leaned back in his chair to stretch his full belly.
It was a giggle to be booking Toque Catering, and say ‘can you just do something nice with Yams and Salmon, my dad’s favourites?’ I was greatly anticipating what they would come up with to satisfy both his simple preferences, and their attachment to extraordinary meals.
Needless to say, the party is cancelled. And Dampa was alone on his birthday.
At a loss for how to best honour this milestone birthday from afar, we decided to zoom whilst decorating our Christmas tree, so he could be a part of something festive. Clearly we would be singing happy birthday, but it felt silly to have a cake that he couldn’t eat. After much consideration, we decided to put a candle in a yam, his favourite. As our teenager was carving a hole in the yam, he remarked “if yams are his favourite, why haven’t we been calling him ‘Yampa’ this whole time?” How had we not come up with this before? So it was with much delight that we sang ‘Happy Birthday to Yampa’ at the tops of our lungs in front of our Christmas Tree, sending as much love as possible through that iPad screen. And I swear he could feel it.
Zoom birthdays may not be a tradition we want to keep, but the christening of Yampa will forever be a warm and beautiful memory in spite of ‘all the other crap’. I have been given new hope that our Covid Christmas may be a simple one, but that it is likely to surprise us with a little something delightful to remember it by.
PS: Yams are the orange ones 😉