This year I have a “real” birthday, and although I may look like a 52 year old woman, I’m having my 13th birthday. There are so many birthday memories; I hardly know which ones to talk about. Even though my oldest brother (sorry Doug, I don’t hold it against you!) told me one time that I didn’t have a birthday that year, (I was maybe 7?), which sent me crying to my mother, my family celebrated my birthday on the last day of February every year.
I have vague memories of sitting on the high step stool in our kitchen with my brothers and parents around the table singing “Happy Birthday”, clapping when I blew out the candles on the cake my mother made and decorated, and watching as I opened my gifts. Happy times! In Kindergarten we had the “birthday chair” which the child being honored sat in while their classmates formed a circle and sang to them. Afterward there would be cupcakes brought in by Mom for the whole class. I recall in elementary school going to other girls’ birthday parties at their homes, my friend Nancy’s featured a spaghetti dinner her mother prepared, cake and raspberry sherbet. Sometimes there were games in the finished basement and soda, sometimes games of tag and hide and seek outside. I remember one such party at my house when I turned 12. I vaguely remember lots of giggling, running in and out of the house, a cake with vanilla frosting and of course lots of gifts, mostly stationery, hair ribbons, and craft kits. I turned 16 on a Sunday and wore a lime green gown my mother made to church that day, and stood as the congregation wished me a happy birthday (I think I turned “4” that day, too!) Of course when I turned 18 my friends took me out to a bar for a rum & coke, and in college we celebrated my 19th for a whole week by going to the town bar for pitchers of beer and pizza. For my 21st my friends gave me a surprise party at my apartment. Every year my family got together for a meal and cake around the time of my birthday, memories most dear now that my parents are gone and my brothers and I all busy with our lives. We do manage to remember each other’s birthday and make a phone call or send a card to wish happiness for the birthday honoree. Birthdays at work have always featured cake and gifts from co-workers, and every 4 years much joking about my ‘tender’ age, and generally a paper crown. My 50th was celebrated a few times, with my family, with my two very dear friends who I met because of Hillary, who took me into NYC for dinner and a show, and with some friends from my childhood with whom I had recently reconnected. Of course, for the past 30 years my husband has been the bringer of cake, and buys me dinner and a gift.
Regardless of who I celebrate with, or what gifts I receive, I always eat too much cake--so much that I feel like I have a cake hangover the following day. No matter, it’s nice for at least one day a year to be made to feel extra-special and appreciated. This year is no exception and I have some lovely memories from it.