This month, February, is our BIG birthday month. Dale, my two daughters, and I all have birthdays in February. They are even different weeks so we are pretty much celebrating a birthday every week.
When my kids were young, I would leave the dining room decorated for birthdays all month. I mean, what was the point of decorating every week! As the crepe paper streamers would start to sag and droop I would just move the tape up the wall to take up the slack. I might refresh the balloons hanging from the middle of the light fixture as by the end of the month they were often starting to look a little deflated and wrinkled. Funny memory.
There was also the birthday tradition for the kids of buying one helium balloon for each year of age. The balloons were tied to their chair at the dinner table. That was a fun tradition until they started to become teenagers and I decided I would rather spend $15.00 on something that was not going to be gone in a day or two. So, for anyone thinking that it might be a fun tradition to start, I suggest you add a cap to the number of years. Maybe tell your kids if they get too many balloons on their chair they will lift off and fly away! But tell them that while they are still young and believe everything you say!
My birthday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. Ugh! Now, not only is there the “Ahhh, you are a Valentine’s baby!”, nearly every time I show my driver’s license, but I have also heard “You must have been a sweet baby”. Well, of course I was!!! (smile) And, to top it off I have always had to share my birthday with a holiday. For those of you who also share your birthday with a holiday you know what I mean. You always seem to miss out on one or the other.
I do have some very fond memories of birthdays past. When I was young I remember having a few birthday cakes that were in the shape of a heart. My mom always bought a bakery cake for our birthdays. I grew up in a fairly poor environment, although I didn’t realize then how much we actually lacked money. So, a store-bought cake was really special. Back when I was a kid, birthday parties were pretty simple. There were no jump houses, no crafts were made and no clowns visited. It was cake, ice cream and a few games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I really don’t remember having any kid parties but my 87-year-old mother has some pictures to prove I did so I guess they actually happened.
As I became an adult and had children, yes there was a wedding in there, my kids kind of took on the role of making mom (me) feel special on her day. My son Kyle was responsible for breakfast, Lora, my youngest had the job of fixing lunch and Claire, my oldest daughter/middle child had the responsibility of dinner. Back then, Claire was my little cook and she was great at it from an early age. Lunch usually consisted of canned soup and a sandwich as Lora was young and that was what she could manage with some help from her siblings, Kyle was outstanding with fixing eggs.
But my most special memory of my kids preparing for my day was when I was able to spend the entire day, at their insistence, working on a scrapbook that I was making. It was back in the day when I was doing such things and time for crafty activities was precious and often hard to find. The thought of having an entire day to sit and work on a project was heaven!
Another birthday that was really special was shortly after we moved to a house on acreage. My cousin had loaned us one of his horses for a short time. Sadly, she was so homesick for him that we had to send her back. However, in the short time we had her we fell in love with Dottabar. We were very sad at her departure and that year on my birthday the kids made me a birthday cake decorating it with a little plastic horse from Kyle’s Cowboys and Indians set, complete with plastic fencing and “Happy Birthday” written on the top of the cake.
Last year was also really wonderful. Dale took me to Carmel for the week-end and we relished in the beautiful scenery, climbed on the rocks at the oceans’ edge and took lots of pictures of waves and tide pools. We even went down to the beach at nearly dark just to take pictures of the waves at night. It was wonderful.
So, here I am again, looking at another birthday in the very near future and being another year older.
No one told me about the aches and pains that often accompany age and the frustration of not being able to do some of the things I used to do, like back bends and Chinese somersaults. Okay, it has been a VERY long time since I could do either of those things but I still remember being able to do them when a kid! But, I like to believe that with age also comes a supply of contentment. There are so many things I no longer desire to own or be responsible for and relationships are more important to me than ever before.
Just yesterday I was out in my vegetable garden weeding, or trying to weed. I had my grand-daughter with me, who just turned 1.
She is walking and is quite Miss Independence. At one time I might have found it frustrating but now it is cute, her busyness to explore and how often she would fall, little hands trying to brush off the dirt and on she would go. Concerned for her safety I decided to leave the garden and go for a walk with her on the property. She will not hold my hand as we walk so instead I held onto the hood of her sweatshirt. We would stop often as she would find little treasures to pick up off the ground, be it a leaf or a little stick that had fallen out of the near by oak tree. She would make her little sounds of surprise as she would take a closer look and then her feet would get busy again, moving in another direction. I am not sure I would have had the patience 27 years ago when so many other chores were left to be done. I’m glad I no longer feel the need to be so productive but enjoy being productive in a different kind of way.
So, this year it is one more candle on the birthday cake to mark yet another year of my existence. I am thankful for the additional candle and pray the coming year will be the best one yet!
And to those who don’t have birthdays on the 14th, Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you are able to spend it with those you love or make it a special day for someone you know.