Friday, April 09, 2010
Happy Flashback to Me, Happy Flashback to Me ....
I have got to get pictures from my mom's house if I'm going to keep at this meme.
This week, Mocha With Linda asks: What were birthdays like when you were growing up? Were they a big deal or understated? Did you have parties? Get to choose what or where the family ate for dinner? Are there any particular birthday traditions that you remember? Is there any birthday that stands out (good OR bad!), either due to the events surrounding it or due to the particular present(s) you received?
Well, I grew up on the blue-collar side of town, so if I said we did my birthdays up big, you might get the wrong idea. It was big to me, and my mother certainly thinks we went over the top, but mainly it was just balloons, a few decorations and store bought cakes, which I thought were beautiful works of art. I could NOT wrap my mind around those icing roses. It seemed a sin to cut through them. Coming from my mother's background, this was a bit extravagant, but I was "spoiled," and she didn't like to bake, so what was she gonna do?
We didn't do special dinners or have traditions. I did have parties, but I don't remember a specific one. Usually we just invited the kids on my block, a motley crew to be sure, but that's how we rolled. (Yesterday, a few people described me as "down to earth" in comments after the post, and now you can see the genesis of that earthiness. It's south-side-of-town, blue collar, salt-of-the-earth earthiness.)
Here we are in our blue collaredness in my parent's living room November 6, 1962. I'll tell you in a minute why Donnie was trying to kill me.
Cue John Mellencamp's "Small Town."
Anyway, below is a pic of my brother, Donnie, and me in 1966. In living color! I am four, and he is 12. His birthday is October 5th. For eight years, he was the baby of the family. Then, in 1962, my mom had me on October 4th. He would never have a birthday celebration unto himself again until he married! I became his nemesis! He has never let me forget this!
Note how I am admiring the royal icing flowers of delight. I am laughing as I type this at my bruised, pale little knock-kneed legs and sagging anklets. I do not know why my mother started my bangs half-way back on my head. I was determined, when I became a mom, not to commit the helmet-bang travesty. I never did, but I'm sure my girls could pick apart their pics, too, and blame me for something. (Giant bows of the 80s, for instance.)
Here is a birthday party circa 1973. Everybody do the purple pants dance! Please note the white ceramic cat in the background to the right. That was as close to a real pet as I ever came in my young life. The cat still lives in my mom's living room, and that's a post I've been meaning to write for some time. Also note my little party guest sitting there having a grand old time watching me dance. Ho-hum.
I wish I could remember a single gift or my 13th or 16th or 18th or 21st birthday, but they are all merely misty water-colored memories. The best birthday I ever had was probably my 40th, though. My friends took me out to dinner and bought me gag gifts, and Jorge bought me the Camaro. I was in car heaven.
And then I had to learn how to drive a stick shift at 40 years old. But that's another story!