My One Year Old

My boy turns one today. As I write this it is just after 3:30. He was delivered at 4pm, which means I have just about spent a full year with him. I guess longer, since even when he was still inside mommy he was very much a part of our lives.

When Leo was first born everyone told us how fast the first year goes. To some degree we had the cockiness of new parents in that we were sure we would be able to carefully measure and recall the time. Of course looking back the time has flown by. He has changed so much that it is hard to recall all the different stages he has been through. Through it all he has been my beautiful son.

One of the neat things about raising a son that is a product of two cultures is that I get to continue learning about the traditions of my current country. I’ve lived in Japan for over a decade now but am still learning so much about it. Today’s lesson was on the customs comcerning first birthdays.

Leo in kanji on mochi.
One tradition involves mochi, the pounded rice cakes. Now, the details of this tradition vary by region, so this post is not meant to be all-encompassing. But it is about how we celebrated today. One of the words for the measurement of a volume mocha is sho. So, one of that measurement would be issho. Issho is also the word for lifelong.

So, one tradition is by getting a sho of mochi as a present means he will will go his whole life not wanting for food. Also, by strapping the mocha to his back and letting him crawl and walk, including the falling that comes with carrying that weight, symbolizes that even though life might knock him down a few times, he will be able to get back up again.

Version 2

These are the little traditions that are hard to find out unless you live them.

Plus, having Leo celebrate his first birthday gave us an excuse to dress him up in baby clothes that resemble formal kimono and hakama. And it gives us a chance to go have a nice lunch with the extended family here in Japan.

It’s hard to believe I’m the father of a one-year old. The time really has flown by.


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