I am caught betwixt and between as to whether I am a fan of birthday parties and celebrations of that kind, or not. It appears that every time a child makes it through, over, or around some landmark in their life, it must be noted, impressed in history by having a huge party, and giving a car load of gifts. While I love celebratory happenings as much as anyone, perhaps it cheapens the value of true accomplishments in life, versus getting a year older.
These celebrations are not new to the current generation, but the magnitude, number of people invited and the extravagant cost of parties (the word party does not nearly do justice to these galas) are a product of the last fifteen or so years. If someone chooses not to have a house party, even the youngest toddler will get a blow out at Chucky Cheese or some such place. All their friends, their friends’ Mothers, and family are invited. (Do toddlers even know they have friends?) Sometimes two parties are held on different days. One for family and one for ‘friends’.
When I was a little girl birthday parties were always held in the house, if at all. I was an only child until I was six. My sister, Christine took a long time coming. Obviously, a bigger deal was made out of my birthday than a child who was perhaps the fourth blessing in his/her family. By the time the fourth child comes around parents become fairly blase’ about their kid making it from four to five years of age, and so forth. It had already been three times proven to those exhausted parents that if you just wait the little darlin will pass from one year to the next without too much effort on anyone’s part. Therefore a birthday party might only consist of Mom, Dad, and the honoree’s siblings. Certainly not a catered affair.
But such was not the case for me, for a while anyway. At the tender age of four, I was still an only child and loving every minute of it. My birthdays were celebrated very modestly by todays standards. Still it was a grand party. My parents would invite their brothers and sisters, with their respective spouses, and children. Neighbors across the hall were also included along with their youngest children, for my birthday celebration. There were Happy Birthday wishes, cards, and gifts.
The adults socialized and drank “highballs” (whiskey and soda in a tall glass) in the living room, while I played dolls, and pots and pans, with my cousins, in my tiny bedroom. Didn’t matter it was small, so were we. And then the cake. The cake was always the biggest deal at birthdays. It was a round creation made with white cake, strawberry filling, whipped cream, surrounded by lady fingers standing at attention on the sides, and my name scrawled across the top. The cake came from Lily’s Bakery two buildings over.
I was afforded the place of honor, standing up on a kitchen chair so that my mother could get a good picture of me blowing out the candles. Judging by the smile on my face, I was having a really good time. Clapping along while my adoring worshippers sang Happy Birthday to me. This memory is vivid primarily because I have a 4″ x 4″ picture in the memory trunk. In retrospect I wonder how much relatives really wanted to be there. But how could they not want to be there? I was so cute.
My dark auburn hair was a curly riot (not much beside the color has changed there and I no longer consider my curls funny.) I wore a cotton dress, which ended mid-thigh, although I don’t know what color it was. It is a black and white photograph. I also wore brown high top leather shoes. No delicate Mary Janes for me. When I was born I had a club foot. Fortunately the heel was there and the doctor was able to pull it into place and tape it. Maybe it was more technical than that, but the result, I had to wear sturdy shoes until I was about 10 years old. The ugly shoes didn’t stop me from dancing around. I doubt I even noticed them. It was my birthday. What a great thing I did!
Ok, now that I have written this, I now know why parents go out of their way to give their children Birthday Parties. Look at the wonderful memories I have of mine all these years later. Go on all you parents with young children. Whoop it up the best you can. Give your kids their own Birthday Party flashbacks.
I Love My Birthday!!!