Saturday, October 21, 2006


I really enjoyed my grandmother's visit. She left the day before my birthday, so she left me this very sweet card:
On your 35th birthday (ooh--I'm liking this already, because she's off a year), think back on the other 34 and remember things that you did on those days. Bring the memories back and see what happens. You will remember your friends at that time in life and all the fun things that you did at each. I pray that you will have a "happy happy," (our family slang--happy happy instead of birthday). You have matured to a very eventful young wife and mother. Mimi wishes for you to have many more birthdays that you and I can be together some other times so I can "let" you win at Skip-Bo (the score for the week was me, 9 games--Mimi, 2). I love you very much. I want to say thanks to you for your help during and after my darling husband's death. I will always remember and love you and yours.
Anyway, when you have lived and loved for 86 years, shouldn't people take your advice? So, in Mimi's honor, I am taking her advice and thinking back on some of my earlier birthdays, in general--what I did in those days and the friends with whom I did it:

I have enjoyed celebrating my last 15 birthdays or so with Terry and my family. Terry is a big Quality Time sort of guy (which is dearer and dearer to me as we grow up together--that he still just wants to hang out with me). So my birthday celebrations are usually a special date for us, with a nice dinner out. I think that last year we saw the Producers in NYC, which was awesome. Having kids makes the family celebrations great, too, because an 8 year old really knows how to pull out all the stops in a birthday party.

Additionally, I know that I have spent many good moments with friends. Last year, new friends here in Connecticut honored me with a birthday brunch. I don't know specifically about birthdays, but I know that we spent many a fun night eating out, laughing and playing games with friends from our church in Houston. We had the blessing of family around there at that time, too, who really did "know me when."

In Portland I don't remember any birthday celebrations, but I do remember dear neighbors. We moved there, knowing nothing about the area or anything, and God placed us on a wonderful street. There were a couple of mentor moms, a few years down the road from me with kids in school, and a few young soon-to-be-moms just like me. These nice ladies gave me a "neighborhood shower," when I was pregnant with Amanda. We had only lived there 7 or 8 months, and they invited everyone--even people that none of us knew very well.

These were our "young married kidless" years. I guess that they are long enough and far-removed enough that I am a little nostalgic about them. We also played lots of games and laughed a lot. We even went through a house-wrapping stage (or TPing or rolling or whatever you call it in your area). Yes, we wrapped the minister of music's house, who was just a few years older than us, and we let the teenagers take the rap for it (no pun intended, but it's pretty punny). Then we started wrapping each others' homes as well. I remember cleaning up my first home's first christening of the white stuff. My friend recently showed me a picture of myself in a sombrero being sung to. I don't even remember that, but we had all gone out to celebrate some "big" birthday of mine--probably 25 or something! Seems like nothing now.

The College Years--that first fall birthday away from home was hard. My dad did come up to visit that weekend, and it was nice, but I distinctly remember being alone. My freshman roommate had bought me a birthday cake/cookie, which was really sweet, but then she had a date or something. I think that experience made me realize that things really do change when you leave home (on top of the fact that when I would return home on weekends to my parents and my sister, they were doing things differently than when I lived there!). I'm pretty sure that after that year, I didn't feel alone. I had good friends, and since my roommate the last two years was a HUGE birthday person (who counted down the days to her birthday on our whiteboard outside the door for at least a month), I know that she didn't let any go by. I do remember going out for my 21st birthday with her and my freshman roommate. She was mad that I wasn't ordering a "drink" for myself. I was going through a temperance phase, apparently (which I live in now).

Speaking of wrapping stories--a longtime friend (a guy) had a birthday the same week as mine, so often I was having a girl's slumber party, and he had guys over at his house the same weekend. Inevitably, they would wrap my house, and one year they got it good! There were long TP streamers draped over the trees, completely blanketing them in white. They had rolled out the words "Happy Birthday" on the lawn. I did love birthday parties, and Mom always let me have friends over (and have cake fights later). I don't know why I would want to have sleepovers, though, because I do always remember crying and having hurt feelings. But I also fondly remember eating lots of junk food, playing "Make Me Laugh," when you're so tired that anything makes you laugh. I remember the surprise 16th birthday party that my friends and my mom planned for me. I also remember being delighted at the effort, but being slightly disappointed because I was the last of "my group" to turn 16, and we had celebrated the other two by going out to dinner (driving on our own, of course), and I was looking forward to that rite of passage.

Do I really remember anything about these years? I have vivid picture-induced memories of my first birthday in the house I grew up in. I was wearing a long white dress with red piping (and a lace up bodice). I was stylin' for 1976 or 1977. Mimi had made me a cake--one of those Wilton pans with the little frosting rosettes. I had friends from my old neighborhood across town, my sister, and my cousin, and maybe a new friend or two? I don't know what we did, but I can just see us sitting around the table (which was painted harvest gold and reddish orange), surrounded by the harvest gold and avocado green wallpaper of the breakfast room. . . .

I hope you enjoyed the little trip down memory lane. I sure did. Thanks for suggesting it, Mimi.


Heather said...

Very sweet. What a wonderful way to celebrate.

Susanne said...

Great idea your Grandma had! And gotta love a mom who'll let cake fights happen!

lrlwreath said...

All I can say is you have a great memory, I struggle with what I did yesterday =))

This is really sweet. I love grandmas they are a blessing from God.

Katrina said...

Oh, that was great. I love reading more about your life and memories. And I'm glad Mimi "let" you win at Skip-bo - after all it was your birthday week!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you & your gram had a sweet time. And yes, what a great idea to think back on other birthdays.