Ever been asked how you celebrate your birthday? I hate that question. This year I’m going to be at an optical convention. It’s just not that important an event for me. The birthday OR the convention. Maybe because I’ve had so damned many birthdays already and the novelty wore off a very long time ago. Except maybe for the milestone birthdays, like turning 30, or 40, or 50, I’d just like to ignore them all, thanks anyway.
I also hate being asked how old I am. I don’t mean out loud to my face, because most people find that verging on rude when it’s really nobody’s business. I mean on forms. Because most of the time I don’t know the answer. I know what year I was born and I can figure it out, but it’s just not a number I keep in my head on a day to day basis.
When W. was growing up they never really celebrated birthdays at all - isn’t that weird? I still don’t know the exact dates of his dad’s or his brother’s birthdays and I don’t think he does either, although they are (were) sometime this month. I remember his sister’s because she was a leap year baby, and I remember his mom’s because it’s the same day as my dad’s. W. and I never exchange gifts or cards. The only reason he thinks of mine at all is because it’s always close to Mother’s Day and the opening day of fishing season. Come to think of it, every one of us growing up shared our birthdays with someone or something else. With all those aunts and uncles and cousins, the cake was never just for one person. The only birthdays I really remember vividly are the ones where I turned SIX and felt very grown up, and then when I became a teenager and felt completely overwhelmed. But special birthday parties with friends and games and goody bags were not something we did. So, having missed out on all that, we of course tried to make their early birthdays a very big deal for our kids.
Here are some random birthday pictures in reverse chronological order (because that’s just how they popped up and I’m too lazy to rearrange them.) This is our darling daughter and one of her cousins, at grandma’s farm one hot July. Having a birthday in the summer means celebrating it in whatever place your family is holidaying at the time. When I was asked what D. would like for her birthday I guess this was the first time I said, oh – just give her some money – we don’t want to be carting a bunch of extra stuff home with us. The money was obviously a huge hit.
So much so that it became her favourite thing to ask for from then on. It’s a tradition we still honor to this day.
This picture, besides showing a cute kid on his second birthday, gives you some indication of my cake decorating skills. There’s been no improvement, in case you’re wondering. I made him a spaceship cake once. He loved it, and was the only one who recognized right away what it was supposed to be. That’s why I love him the best.
Here’s our two sun-soaked kids at camp at the other grandma’s another hot July. Birthday number three.
And then we zip back to birthday number one, the most important birthday in everyone’s life. You just never ever are this important again, no matter what your future accomplishments.
She goes from mild curiosity, to baby version of WTF? to okay, this stuff is not too bad. I’ll wash it down with the dregs from the beer bottles later, and we’ll call it a successful day.
Another birthday tradition in my family is to never celebrate anything on the right day. That’s why, when I go to Ontario next week we will be celebrating my mom’s 90th birthday, which was in February, because they thought it would be nice to wait until I got there. My brother’s birthday is the 19th of April, so we’ll likely celebrate that one at the same time. Gawd – I hadn’t really thought about how strange that is until right now, writing it down. Strange, but certainly not a bad thing. With this method, every day of the week could be a celebration of something, past or future. Sounds like a plan.