by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette
My family knows I’m a HUGE birthday fan – even more than Christmas.
In my book, birthdays are important because they mean you’ve made it through another year. And the past COVID years make us all keenly aware of how lucky we are to say that.
Making a big fuss over someone else’s birthday is a way of saying “I think you’re special and I’m glad you’re here.”
As a child, I had a birthday party every year. In the early years, they were pretty tame, but well-attended. I have a photo of my kindergarten party with the whole class there!
(Where in the world my mother put them all in our small bungalow, I have no idea.) I am clutching a doll, obviously a gift, wearing a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon.
Later, the parties shrank in size, but not in length, like the slumber parties mentioned in my column of March 12 last year. I don’t think my guests brought gifts. Their “gifts” were their presence and the fun we had together, leaving indelible memories.
My favorite birthday happened when I turned 37. As he left for work on the big day, my husband left behind an official-looking notice which said, “Be ready at 5 p.m., when your transport will arrive. The babysitter will arrive at 4:30.”
As I told my friends later, yes, the celebration was wonderful, but the BEST part was that my husband hired the babysitter. Remember those calluses on your dialing finger from calling multiple teenagers and begging them to watch your kids while they ate you out of house and home and collected a king’s ransom?
Promptly at 5 p.m. as promised, an antique Rolls Royce arrived out front and the chauffeur rolled out a red carpet. I sashayed to my limo, just like a movie star.
Our first stop was to pick up my husband at his office, and then we were whisked off to a fancy dinner at Jean Louis. (It was the only time in my life I ate alligator. When I inquired about its taste, the server dismissively said, “Oh, it tastes just like crocodile.”)
After our wonderful dinner we went to see “Crazy for You” at one of the theaters downtown and then had a drink at the Hay Adams after the show. Quite an evening!
For us Old School types, who’ve celebrated many birthdays, I say it’s almost worth getting old to have them. Almost.
Reach Carol McEwen at email@example.com.