Today marks the 6th birthday of my great niece, London Kate. The family gathered to celebrate at Roller City, in Joplin. This colorful, fun skating rink was the place to be this afternoon, as children and adults gathered for at least five birthday parties, creating an energetic and festive atmosphere.
The children and some of the adults in our group took to the floor. The youngest family members made use of an ingenious device that resembles a walker, which allows them to skate securely without fear of falling. The rest of us sat on bleachers at the end of the polished wooden floor, watching and waving as kids skated by.
Although this is a newer facility, completely remodeled after the tornado in 2011, some things never change. The house lights would dim and the disco lights spin, casting splashes of color across the ceiling and onto the skaters below. Familiar games such as Freeze and Limbo were played. And the lively songs rocking through the speakers encouraged skaters and spectators alike to move with the music.
The beautiful birthday girl enjoyed it all, skating with her daddy, Eric, and then her Papa Roy, before taking spins around the room on her own. London is very family oriented. She loves a party, appreciating any reason to get together with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She moved easily from person to person, accepting “happy birthdays”, giving out hugs and smiles.
Watching London blow out her candles, enjoy a delicious piece of cake, and open presents, I realized that the toddler is long gone. This is a young lady, about to complete kindergarten, poised, confident, and affectionate. She’s a loving daughter and an excellent big sister to Aralyn. London is a fun and playful cousin, and she keeps her adoring Gigi young at heart.
Intelligence shines out through her big blue eyes, which can turn mischievous in a flash. And she has a generous and expansive heart. She’s called out to me often as I was leaving, running to me for one more hug and kiss. My granddaughter Aubrey and London, who is my sister Linda’s granddaughter, are the best of friends. They love dancing and singing and creating together, as they laugh and play. I’ve watched their relationship deepen in the past year.
As London grows in stature and knowledge, she continues to grow in grace and beauty. I look forward to seeing her take her place in the world and offer her gifts out of a full and open heart. Happy birthday, sweet girl! I love you.