My oldest child Jane turned 20 yesterday.  Yes, she is a July 4th baby, coming to this world with a spirit of independence and definitely a mind of her own.

I asked Jane how it felt to be turning 20.

“Give me one more year!” She replied.

“What do you mean?”

“20 is a year of insignificance.  I want to be 21!”

But according to the culture I came from, 20 is the turning point of one’s life that calls for much celebration.  Being 20 means the end of the turbulent teen years and the start of adulthood.  It is a year of transition. People are more forgiving towards twenty-year-olds for acting like irrational teens from time to time.  On the other hand, any demonstration of maturity or thoughtfulness will be noticed and admired.  In other words, you aren’t taken for granted yet.

Being 20 also means one has to start thinking about (if he hasn’t already) all that fun stuff about life, such as who he wants to be and what he wants to do, so that when he reaches the pivotal age of 21, he’ll have a clearer and yet still blurry picture about the future.  It is a year of reflection and deepening self-understanding.

We celebrated Jane’s birthday with a family outing: picking blueberry in Indiana in the morning, relaxing on the beach in Michigan after lunch, heading to the outlet mall afterwards and enjoying a Sushi dinner in Chinatown.

The blueberry season has just started.  Among the 6 of us, we picked about 5 pounds of big and dark purple berries. We just didn’t see that many ripe ones, but other groups obviously did because they carried full buckets of blueberries to the checkout line.

The Warren Dunes beach was crowded yesterday.  It was ideal beach weather.  Jim and Jake got on the inflated slides a few times.  The girls and Jake built what Michelle called ‘the Bikini Bottom’ sand castles.  The water was chilly but that didn’t stop anyone from having fun in it.  I admiringly watched Jake climbing up the sand dunes. He turned into a small dot at the top and waved to me.  When my little boy came down, he reached into his pocket and handed me the little shells he had collected for his mama at the top.  What a guy!

The outlet mall had everything 50-60% off yesterday.  We got a lot of awesome back-to-school stuff at great bargains.  I’ve raised two girls who love shopping as much as I do.  Jane said to Jim that I always looked like I was on a mission when shopping, which I thought was very true.

The sky was lit up with fireworks on our way home from Chinatown.  We told Jane it was all for her because she was that special.

I turned to Jane, “You know, being 20 isn’t that bad.  You have a whole year to look forward to being 21, which I know will bring more freedom and independence.  The fact is once you are 21, that dream is gone.”

Jim, who is 21, agreed.

“Yeah! I’ve never thought of it that way.  I guess you’re right.”

A roaring fireball rose to the sky and burst into a splendid and colorful display of confetti.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

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