Thursday, October 8, 2015

Forget About Birthdays by Diane Burton

When I was growing up, my mom did her best to make our birthdays special. Since there were seven of us kids, we didn’t get a lot of individual attention—except on our birthdays. Mom made a wonderful orange chiffon cake with pineapple icing, all from scratch. We had candles and singing and gifts. With seven kids, money was stretched to the limit. So birthday gifts, while special, weren’t extravagant. My favorite gifts were always books. Nancy Drew ranked high. As I grew older, Mom would buy a special Sanders birthday cake with buttercream icing, ground nuts around the sides. Yum.

For my kids’ birthdays, I learned how to decorate their cakes using Wilton cake pans. They had Strawberry Shortcake and Raggedy Ann, Big Bird, even Darth Vader. It’s a wonder I didn’t get carpal tunnel from making little stars with canned chocolate frosting. We made a big deal out of their birthdays, just like my mom did. And my family reciprocated with Hubs' birthdays and mine.

So how did I spend my birthday this year? Babysitting the grandkids at their house. (A continuation of the week when Hubs and I had to get them off to school that I blogged about on the 30th.) Always fun, unless the five-year-old starts running a fever. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. And of course, I couldn’t find a thermometer or children’s Tylenol. Eventually, I found a chewable pain reliever that in small print said fever reducer. Dad was at a medical conference and Mom was incommunicado at a camp without cellular service. But I managed. Thank goodness for Hubs who took care of the dogs (3 of them) and kept an eye on the kids—while watching football—so I could take a nap. Grandson is fine. Not so sure about his grandma. LOL

Prior to that adventure, I was treated to dinner by daughter and her family. And my five-month-old granddaughter sent flowers from Arizona. Very clever girl. According to her dad (our son) they’re going to have to keep an eye on her. She took a credit card from his wallet and went shopping online. She even wrote the loveliest letter. As I said, very clever for a kid so young. <g>

I love the celebrations. Most years, they extend nearly all month with lunches out with my sister and girlfriends, cards and phone calls. When Hubs asked the perennial question “What do you want for your birthday?” I said I wanted to go up north to see the colors. Surprisingly, he said he was going to suggest that. After forty-three years, I guess we know each other.

The only fly in the ointment is that I’m a year older. Yuck. Mentally, I’m still in my twenties. Thirties, maybe. My body tells a different story. Oh, to have the energy and enthusiasm of those earlier days but the wisdom of age. I’d tell my younger self to enjoy the moment. Not to always rush through whatever I was doing and to stop looking toward what’s next. Just enjoy the journey.

So even though I started later than I should have, I’m enjoying the journey.

Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site:


Maureen said...

What a lovely post, Diane. Brings back memories of all the birthday's gone by. Plus I now want to try that delicious sounding cake your mother made, sounds scrumptious!
Although birthday's aren't the same as they were as a child, I've been told- it beats the alternative ;)

Diane Burton said...

LOL, Maureen. My father-in-law always said that. You're right. Birthdays do beat the alternative.

Jannine Gallant said...

Our birthday cake of choice growing up was always black midnight with 7 minute frosting. My girls never wanted the same type--always changing it up but always from scratch. Lots of birthday parties over the years for the girls. My husband's b-day is two days before mine. The girls usually make a cake for him and we eat leftovers on mine. That works since I sure don't need to double down on cake calories!

Margo Hoornstra said...

That cake does sound delicious. Good thing you're an adept multi-tasker where the grandkids are concerned. Enjoyed your post. Happy Birthday!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Birthdays were and still are a big deal in my family. I tried to get everyone to ignore mine once I hit 50 but my wishes fell on deaf ears.

Alicia Dean said...

Lovely post, Diane. So, what actual day IS your birthday? Did I miss that? Or, maybe that was a previous post? Anyway...Happy (late?) Birthday! I loved reading about your childhood birthdays. Mine were similar in that there were 6 of us and money was tight. However, my parents did an excellent job of making our birthdays special. We got the homemade cakes, but not one particular kind. My fave was strawberry, so that's usually what I got. The MOST special thing about our birthdays was that my dad would take the birthday kid out to dinner, just the two of us (them). Going out to eat was a rare treat anyway, but one on one time with Daddy made it super special. :) I am VERY impressed by your 5 month old granddaughter. The child is a genius! :)

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Lovely post!
Great memories...yours and those it stirs for me.

Good luck and God's Blessings.

Alison Henderson said...

When I was growing up, the birthday person got a big bow on their chair and the cake of their choice. Now, if I want something special, I have to do it myself. This year, I spent my birthday buying OG a new car. LOL It's a good thing I don't put too much store in birthdays.

Rolynn Anderson said...

You're talking about the kinds of celebrations that are well worth passing on to generations. I do so like homemade cakes. My favorite was/is cherry chocolate cake with white mountain icing (a variation on the 7 minute frosting Jannine mentioned. This year, my whole family came to celebrate my birthday...and I loved every minute of it...and it made me feel younger!

Diane Garner said...

Loved your post. Sounds like you have a wonderful family. I've had sore hands from decorating a Wilton cake also.

Diane Burton said...

Jannine, my sister used to make black midnight cakes. I'd forgotten all about them. So moist and delicious. My mom & dad's birthdays were a day apart. I always felt they got gyped on each having a special day because we celebrated them together. I do understand about not wanting double the calories, though.

Margo, isn't multi-tasking a prerequisite for motherhood? Same goes for grandmas--as you well know.

Brenda, families just don't listen, do they? :-)

Alicia, my b'day was last Friday. I love the idea of a one-on-one dinner with dad. How special. We had each grandchild separately for a day this summer. Amazing how good they played without sibling rivalry. Yes, that baby girl IS a genius. LOL

Pam, I'm so glad my post evoked good memories.

Alison, LOL. You are so unselfish. What a way to spend your b'day. Hope the rest of it was good.

Rolynn, how great they all came for your birthday. Talk about feeling special. My son-in-law's family didn't make a big to-do about birthdays. He's adjusted to ours. :-) For one of his birthdays, I put candles in a watermelon slice. He got a kick out of that.

Diane, those Wilton cakes are killers. LOL I'm so glad we have family traditions. They make life fun!

Leah St. James said...

What a fun post, Diane! Your childhood sounds similar to mine, although a much smaller family. My mom was a single mom though, so funds were used carefully and sparingly. She always scrimped and saved to get her girls (my sister and me) something special. Nancy Drew was big on my wish list too. I always try to make a big deal out of my family's birthdays too, although they thank me for buying the cake. (My last few attempts at "scratch" cake were memorable in the wrong way.) :-) Thanks for helping me remember happy times.

Diane Burton said...

Leah, I'm so glad my post reminded you of happy times.

Susan Coryell said...

Ahhhh! I love those "marathon birthdays" that stretch from pre to post actual day. I remember one birthday where hubs could only treat me to the Sr. Citizen's breakfast buffet at a fast food restaurant because we were keeping out oldest child's three grandkids for the 10 days he and his wife went to Hawaii.Best wishes!