Week 2: School
4. How did you celebrate birthdays as a child?
My initial response to this question was "we didn't really have any traditions for birthdays"--but then I really thought about it and realized that there were things I could always count on for my birthday that made the day special.
Dinner. We got to choose our birthday dinner, which was maybe my favorite part of the day. I love lasagna and can't remember a year when I didn't choose lasagna for my birthday dinner. My mom's lasagna is still one of my very favorite meals. The lasagna, of course, came with garlic french bread. Yum. Now that I am the provider of dinner in my home I realize how much work lasagna is and am even more grateful that my mom always made it for me with nary a complaint!
Cake! A cake is kind of a given on a birthday, but I had the same exact cake every year: confetti cake with confetti frosting. You know how some people don't like frosting? I'm not one of those people. I LOVE frosting. And confetti frosting is the best. I would seriously eat spoonfuls of it out of the jar. (And still will.) Along with my confetti cake, I'd have mint chocolate chip ice cream. Or in other words, the best ice cream ever.
Par-tay. We got to have a friend party every single year. I know, right? Lots of work, especially when your birthday is two weeks before Christmas. For one of my parties my mom took me and all my friends to the New York, New York casino. The plan was to ride the ridiculous roller coaster--but, alas, it was closed that day. We played in the arcade instead and still had a great time! One year, the only thing I wanted to do was go to McDonald's with my friends, eat dinner, and play in the playplace. I apparently was pretty low-key that year. One of the employees played with us and it was seriously the best day ever. The employee's manager got mad at him, and I remember my mom going to talk to the manager after and thanking her for the employee making my birthday so special (go, mom!). One year for my party (I think I was in Kindergarten maybe?), we were having lunch. My mom let me choose the menu. I don't know what else I planned, but the star (for me) were those little mini hot dogs! I was such a weird kid.
Birthday Bingo. My mom made these cute bingo cards with birthday pictures and I remember playing birthday bingo at almost every single birthday. We loved birthday bingo. Now I want to make my own birthday bingo!
Hang over, hang over, thy poor head. Have you played that game? You sing "hang over, hang over, thy poor head. What you gonna do with a bump on your head?" while holding the present over the birthday person's head. The birthday person has to guess "wear it!" or "read it!" or whatever. If they're wrong, you whack them on the head with their present. But in my family, you got bumped whether you were right or wrong--especially if Kayla happened to be in charge of hangover, because she always forgot which present she was holding.
Memorable gifts. I got a book for every birthday, I think. Not because my parents always gave books, but because I loved books. I always looked forward to seeing what my new book was and often would have finished reading it by the next day. My most memorable present, ever, though--and really the only specific present I remember beside books--was a quilt my mom made for me. I was shocked when I opened it because I hadn't seen her make it. Tying a quilt is quick, but it's not something you can hide--I was sure I would have seen her tying it. But my mom was super sneaky and set up the quilt frame while I was at basketball practice, then tied the quilt at turbo speed to finish it before I got home. The fabric was white with blues, reds, and yellows, and had bears on it. It said things like "beary tired" or "bearly asleep." I used this blanket for years. Then Ryan made me take a break from it, because I was wearing holes through it. My mom sweetly patched it and re-bound it, and I started using it again. This blanket is the softest, most comfortable blanket I ever had. I still use this blanket every night--but Ryan tells me I can't call it a blanket anymore because it's got so many holes. I'd rather use it and wear it to pieces than just put it in a box, though!
Family. We always celebrated birthdays as a family, which I think is the most important tradition we had. My parents and siblings made me feel loved and special--not just on my birthday, but every day.