Kyu: “Can we do something low key?”
Alice: “What do you mean?”
Kyu: “For Lyon’s 1st Birthday…”
Alice: “Oh yea, sure…. no problem, babe.”
That was about as much collaboration that happened in planning this low key get-together between me and Kyu. I heard his words…. I tried so hard to listen. But ultimately, the little voice inside that adored beautiful details, planning tasteful events, and being around close friends & family won me over. Plus, how many times is our 1st son going to turn 1? That’s right, Kyu…. We owed it to Lyon.
So, of course I turned to my friend and designer Kristen Smith to help me plan a lovely gathering for Lyon’s 1st Birthday. For Asians – especially Koreans, the 1st birthday is a pretty monumental milestone. It was important to me to uphold as many traditions for Lyon’s birthday as possible.
We started with a color pallet: red, white with a touch of gold. I love the way his invitations turned out.
Kristen also designed programs for Lyon’s birthday party… We knew that many of our guests would not understand the meaning and significance of the events that would happen that day, so we took some time to describe them.
The little buddha girls on the very right corner, leading the lion dance, is my younger sister and I in 1990. I love that we are able to pass such a rich tradition from my family to Lyon…
We hosted the birthday party in our backyard. Kristen had the idea of incorporating colorful lanterns, and I actually really love how it turned out.
One of my absolute favorite details of the party was the string of 3×3 photos from Project Lyon that lined the dinner tables… My favorite 200 of the 365 photographs I took of Lyon’s 1st year served as the centerpiece for our guest tables. If you walked the tables, you could chronologically follow Lyon’s 1st year through photos… Such a meaningful touch that I loved so much.
And of course, there was a feast! Traditional Korean cuisine and a golden roast suckling pig to add to the menu for our guests…
My background is Chinese-American, so I had to talk with Korean friends to learn about all of the traditions of the Korean dol ceremony. I took my best stab of it…
One of the key ceremonies was the toljabee. In short, we lay 5 items in front of Lyon. Whichever item he crawls to first dictates the future he will have…
And a play-by-play of the action! Even though Lyon skipped all of his naps that day, he excitedly took part in this event. What a good boy…
And he chose money! (I predicted money, actually – because I know of my son’s secret obsession with paper…)
The children had fun painting framed art to take home. We had 2 versions (both Korean and Chinese) outlining the traditional characters of the word “Happiness.” Some did a remarkable job! Some just painted black on the whole frame!
It was a lot of fun…
And finally. My younger sister and brother-in-law performed a very special Lion dance to close the birthday for Lyon. This dance is significant to us because this majestic creature is what our son was named after… He serves to protect the family from evil spirits and guide us towards a fruitful and prosperous future.
Benji and Irene learned the dance the night before. And this is how it turned out!
It was a first lion dance performance for many of our little guests…. So special.
In the end, Kyu turned to me and commented on what an amazing year it has been for us and how special celebrating it was. I couldn’t agree more.
Happy 1st Birthday, my little Lyon…
A very special thank you to Jon-Michael Sullivan for perfectly capturing this amazing day for us.