Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday - The Birthday Edition

Mocha with Linda is celebrating her sister's birthday by asking us to share birthday memories this Flashback Friday:
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?
First off, let me say I'm a December baby which meant I could never have large back-yard parties because it was always FREEZING. Since we lived mostly in small houses while I was growing up, I was allowed to have just a handful of friends over to celebrate. That kind of rankled since my sister, a June baby, always had (you guessed it) large back-yard parties with lots of people and a huge meal, usually picnic fare.

Now that I live in the southern hemisphere and my birthday falls during hot weather, I'm past the phase of having -- or even wanting -- a large back-yard party. Such is life.

When I was 11-years-old we moved into a house with a large finished basement. One end held my stepfather's office, a half bath and a laundry room but the vast majority of the basement was open and served as a great room. Previous owners had a mural painted on two adjoining walls. It was a wonderful space and I remember lots of (mainly grown-up) parties down there.

The year we moved in, my mom threw a huge, surprise birthday party/sleepover for me. I knew we were having the normal, invite-a-few-friends-over party, but I had no idea mom had invited people from our old neighborhoods as well as friends from school and my scout troop. I don't really remember how it all went down. I think my stepfather took my sister and me somewhere for a while after school and while we were gone everyone arrived and hid in the basement. When I got home, mom sent me down to the basement for something and when I turned the light on, they yelled SURPRISE. It was such a fun party! Not everyone slept over but I think about a dozen of the girls did. I wish I had the photos from that party to share with you. It was 1970 and we were all wearing very "groovy" outfits :-) I had a beaded band of some kind tied around my forehead.

Definitely a stand-out birthday for me!

Putting the Christmas tree up was a birthday tradition. Because of my mom's allergies, we had a fake tree -- a glorious silver monstrosity that had a revolving light box that turned the tree red, blue, green and then yellow. I loved that tree! And decorating it was something I looked forward to doing on, or very near, my birthday.

Of course, I often received singular gifts "for birthday-and-Christmas" from a lot of people. Because of that I was always sensitive about making sure our son, also a December baby, received plenty of gifts on BOTH days! Perhaps an over-reaction because of how much it bothered me as a child. 

I don't remember going out to eat for my birthday until I was an adult. It just wasn't part of our family culture. My mom worked in a diner type restaurant most of my growing up years and we'd often go in for a burger or some other sandwich at lunch, but I don't have memories of going out to many other places. And never for a birthday.

I'm a little embarrassed that I cannot remember a single birthday gift received as a child! Not a one. I remember Christmas gifts, but not the birthday ones. I think maybe the birthday gifts were kept simple and practical, especially since mom made a really big deal about Christmas and always gave us tons of presents then. I'll have to ask my sister what she remembers.

Definitely cannot beat Linda's story of her 5th birthday though!


Mocha with Linda said...

What a fun memory! I always said that if I had a December baby that I would have a "1/2 birthday" party for him/her in the summer!

Such a cool surprise party story. I never got to have a slumber party; my parents were much too sensible for that! LOL

Barbara H. said...

I can't remember any gifts, either, but my excuse is that those memories are 40 years old!

That's the way to do a surprise party!

Joyce said...

My older sister's birthday is the day after Christmas. I can't remember her childhood birthdays but we make a big deal these days. We get hats and horns and try to make it special.

I loved the surprise party story...would love to see the pictures. I too had some beaded items back in 1970. We are the same generation : )

skoots1mom said...

friends over to always fun.
YOU SHOULD have a large back-yard'd enjoy it:)

finished basement...AWESOME got a sleepover!!!hiding in the basement MADE IT EVEN MORE FUN!!
1970...ahhhh, sweet memories :)
silver monstrosities...must have been big...we had one too!
They're actually back in ...
I'm gonna be with my mother this weekend...I'm so going to ask her what i got b/c I can't remember either! hahahahaha

rita said...

Great memories. Shows that events and activities are more important than actual material gifts.
IF we should happen to be so privileged as to be there for your birthday, we will have to have a big outdoor fiesta!

Cathy said...

I love all these birthday memories everyone is sharing. I can't remember any specific gifts either. I wonder why?