Saturday, July 2, 2011

Family Birthday Memories for Beth

     When I was a kid, the day of our birth was special. Not because we might get a lot of gifts. With five kids, that rarely happened. I don't ever remember getting any birthday gift in particular except my first bicycle. That was when I turned seven. Like many whining young girls, I'd been going on about a pony. I had a friend who lived in a trailer park, for pity's sake, and SHE had a pony! That's the year I got the bike. Dad spent most of the day trying to teach me to ride without falling over, training wheels and all, into the hard gravel driveway. Eventually I could wobble twenty feet or so without flopping onto the rocks but I was a scraped-up mess for days. 

    Mostly our birthday was extra-special because Mom, in her most energetic and enthusiastic way, would loudly announce, "It's your day!" She made a big deal out of letting you think you could do what you wanted all day long. You could make big person decisions! This was brainwashing of course because if you were unreasonable and announced you weren't taking a bath or didn't want to do an assigned chore, your self-will if contrary (birthday or not) was immediately 'set aright.' Then you pondered just how much power you actually had as a birthday girl (or boy). However, with Mom's magic, she still could make you feel that you ruled the domestic world, in a small way, for that one day. 

Want cinnamon toast for breakfast? You got it! 

Want to wear your favorite striped shirt with your polka dot shorts? Fine! 

Go up a tree and read a book most of the day? OK-just come down for dinner, please. 

     The best part was that Mom was a terrific cake maker. I don't remember her producing any wonderful pies but when it came to cakes, she excelled. Mom considered using a mix was cheating and only succumbed to the lure of Pillsbury in later years. She was proud of doing the whole shebang-- a multi-layered cake (flavor of your choice), the eggy vanilla filling, and the icing by hand. She unrolled a whole kit of icing tips and little bags and could obtain any color of the rainbow with careful drops of food coloring stirred into white icing and ranged around her in a multitude of small bowls. No artist ever mixed a paint palette more carefully than my Mom concocted shades of cake icing. 

     Your birthday cake was decorated with some colorful appropriate theme involving lots of icing roses and leaves and then the cake was kept a secret from you until it was brought in after the evening meal. The lights in the dining room turned low, the candles on the cake lit in the kitchen, and then Mom came banging through the door with this flaming cake, her face beaming, as she led the family in a loud rendition of "Happy birthday to you-". 
Tomorrow is my niece Bethany's 27th birthday. I don't have a card but thought she might enjoy this: do what you want all day Beth-you have my permission. I remember you when you looked like this--God, you were a pixie of a baby! Come to think of it--you still are!  

   Happy 27th and many more.
   Love from Aunt Pep.