I am out early, across the field to the river over a light dusting of snow. The first thing I think about: I remember it’s my younger sister’s birthday – my sister-in-law’s as well. I text them both. My mother always called us, first thing in the morning, on our birthdays. Early. I was always pleased to hear her voice, to have the ritual. I still miss her call and she’s gone for many years now. I know my brothers and sisters do as well. My mother made each of us a signature birthday cake. But my sister Joanna and brother Bobby, (born on January 11), had to share their cake (and birthday parties) because their January births were years but only days apart and in a family with five children, the mother made practical choices. Their cake was A Snowman. Three round yellow cakes baked in different sizes, frosted with vanilla icing, and decorated with chocolate chips for eyes and buttons. My oldest brother, August, had Angel Food and Fresh Whipped Cream. My older sister, born three days before Christmas, had a Candy Cane: yellow cake, frosted with boiled icing and decorated with alternating stripes of white coconut and pink dyed coconut. On October 26, I had Halloween, and a Witch. Two round layers, vanilla, and orange colored frosting, with a stenciled witch, drawn by my mother on cardboard and cut out, then dipped in melted semi-sweet chocolate and placed on the center top of my cake. Rituals. These were ones she made for us. Years ago, I gave my sister, for her birthday, a lovely crystal necklace in the shape of a heart. She never takes it off. Every day, she says, for all these years, someone admires it. “My sister Kelly gave it to me for my birthday,” she says, over and over again. I never need to give her another present. This one, a perfect one, keeps giving. To both of us.