Even my childhood dog got into my birthday celebrations . Since he was considered by my mother to be an “outside dog,” he was always outside in the January cold when it came time for my birthday cake to make its entrance into our dining room. Not to be omitted from the family celebration, he’d lift himself onto his hind legs, put his front legs on the frosty dining room window and howl lustily as the birthday song was sung. It was the only song he “sang” for. My mother knew how to throw a good party, so there was always a beautiful cake with luscious pink frosting roses, always lots of gifts beautifully wrapped, always beautiful Hallmark cards and always, repeat, ALWAYS, a fuss made. That’s just how birthdays were, I believed.
When I entered marriage, I had high expectations for my first married birthday celebration. I suffered a quick and brutal fall from my previously enjoyed and exalted status as the Birthday Girl.
Contrary to my experience growing up, my new husband didn’t mention my birthday at all in the days proceeding it. On my birthday morning, as I got ready to go teach school, my husband still remained mum. Unable to stand it, I asked him if we’d go out for dinner that night. He looked mildly surprised and answered unenthusiastically, “If you want to.” “He’s definitely got something up his sleeve, ” I told myself. I raced home from school expecting to find a card in the mailbox saying all the right kinds of birthday things. Maybe a present would be waiting too. Nothing. I then convinced myself that he must have invited our friends to join us for dinner. Nope. Feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself as the evening wore on, I doggedly continued to cling to hope. He must be saving the best for last. There’d be a surprise party after dinner at a friend’s house. After dinner, he drove directly home. I received nary a card nor nary a present on that long ago day. I couldn’t bear the let down and burst into tears.
That episode took place 52 years ago. It has never been forgotten. Various iterations of it happen from year to year. Some years are a wow, but others, not so much. But never as disheartening as year # one of marriage.
Against my better judgement, my expectations were rekindled as #75 approached. They just rose up! Guess who said the word “birthday” first?
This morning I came upon a brilliant sketch between Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca that was on youtube. Hang in there, when you watch it. They didn’t rush things in the 50’s. I promise, you’ll be rewarded! I invited my husband to watch it with me, and we both laughed hard and often!
p.s. Did I mention that I loved the aesthetics of birthdays? Especially those in pastel colors, with pastel balloons, pastel cakes, and pretty paper plates and napkins and ….