Day 5 -What do you prefer to do on your birthday?
For starters my birthday falls on December 24th. This means that even if I WANTED to have a nice and mellow dinner party with friends to celebrate, chances are that I would be competing with family obligations and long-standing traditions that pre-date my birth. So answering “what do I prefer to do” is all kinds of amusing to me as I very rarely have had a choice. (Obviously all of this changed once the dichotomy in my family changed – this is both incredibly liberating and incredibly sad all at once.)
It used to be that my birthday began from the moment I woke up and lasted until lunch. That was it. And really, it was enough. My Mother would wake me up with the long and complex story of my birth. It is a story that is so complicated that I tend to guard it like a precious fingerprint. Now that I am older and have a child with his own complicated birth story my Mother is very eager to tell the tale of how I came to make my entrance but I pout and I plead and so far she has allowed me my ownership (even though I only make an entrance at the end). I will give one detail and say that helicopters were involved.
So we begin my birthday with this great story and then it is a family breakfast. Because of the holidays we were always at my Grandparent’s house. Breakfast was where gifts were usually bestowed and cards given. I loved sitting around the table and having all the attention on me to open each gift. We are also a family that appreciates a good card so one doesn’t just read it and put it away – no the cards get passed around and read aloud and enjoyed.
Lunch is on the early side and depending on the decade there was either a fine cuisine of spaghetti-ohs and potato chips or pizza. Red velvet cake, peppermint ice cream finished out the meal. But HURRY UP AND EAT!! And HURRY UP AND WASH UP!
You see as soon as the last dish from lunch is put away it is no longer my birthday. Put away the streamers and bring out the tree – now it’s time for Christmas.
My family was wonderful in that I never received a birthday gift in Christmas wrapping paper, and I do not have a single posed birthday photo of me with a Christmas tree in it. I did suffer from the, “I bet I know what I am getting tomorrow…” moments often. The birthday that I got a kick-ass Walkman and no tapes…well guess what Santa brought me the next morning.
I was also raised to write thank you notes for all of my birthday gifts before Christmas. (And on Christmas day it was strongly suggested that I write thank you notes for my gifts before I go to bed.) To facilitate this I usually was given stationary for my birthday every year.
As much as I grumble about not being able to have a dinner out with friends on my birthday I don’t think I would trade that in exchange for the truly magical memories of the birthdays of my childhood. I was ALWAYS home with my family, never had to go to school, and only once did I have to work on a birthday (darn temp job!).
But I do need to get better at planning something for 1/2 birthdays…