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What? Forget my birthday?

By January 13, 20165 Comments


better cake   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.  birthday card

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 ….



Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • April Walstad says:

    Dianne, that was terrific. Yes, I remember the nut cups and the m&m’s at the dinner table for birthdays, steak, and your favorite cake ( mine, lots of white frosting), and lighting the candles. And of course a robust Happy Birthday sung in parts. It was a big event. Thanks for taking me back.

    And, Happy Birthday (again)!

    Xox. April

    On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, wrote:

    > devapnek posted: ” 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. ” >

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Hi dearie, love your writing and I can just see in my mind’s eye your fabulous birthday party with your pup singing along. Birthdays did seem to be a much bigger thing at that age…now we’re just grateful that we’ve gotten to be this old! I’ll be thinking of you and hope that you have a very special day and I know that Danny will pull through! Much love to you and extra special wishes for all that your heart desires. J PS Where do I find that Sid Caesar sketch that you described? >

  • Eleanor Moriarty says:

    I started this an hour ago OK. It is still your birthday I didn’t forget just running around driving people all over and trying to bird and pretend I still have the energy to be alive
    The will is there so my dear wonderful childhood friend, soul mate of teen years, I wish you all the grandest pastels in the world, all the lively flowering pictures on cards forever but most of all a dog that eats the birthday cake. Atta boy.
    Love you and welcome to the amazing age we share.

  • Laura Wilson says:

    Poor Danny…if he had only known what he knows now about blogging. Love and Happy Birthday to my fellow Capricorn dance lover!

  • Sheri Overall says:

    Hi Dianne ~~ No pink roses BUT we WILL celebrate when we see you on Sunday!! Your birth date is the same as my Dad¹s (except for, of course, the year!). Be forewarned that Jack has requested my spaghetti for our dinner and since it¹s also his (early) celebration I¹m honoring his wish. Here¹s to your #75, Jack¹s #74 and Dan¹s #??? ~~~~ XO Sheri

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