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Birthday Celebrations

IMG_1678Today is my birthday and I’m celebrating! I’ve never understood why anyone acts like having a birthday is a burden.   Why not be happy just as your parents were when you were born? As you were when you were 5? When you are 21?

And why say, “Oh, we don’t have to do anything special.” Those who love you want to celebrate and are happy when you choose the way, like Cathy did on her birthday last October.

Cathy is Daughter’s and my friend. Her age hits right in the middle of ours. She and Daughter bonded during the years they taught 5th grade in next-door classrooms. Cathy and I crossed paths at church, at social events, and as fellow teachers. Cathy loves Daughter’s children – in fact, she loves all children. So on her birthday, she celebrated with kids. Five of my Grands.

“Mom,” Daughter said in a phone call to me, “Cathy called and you might want to come by our house after lunchtime today. Cathy says she’d bringing stuff for her own birthday party.”

My Grands sat on their covered back porch watching for Cathy and they ask questions. Do you think she’ll bring a cake? What’s her favorite ice cream? Will she bring her own gift? Shouldn’t we give her something? How many candles will be on her cake? Can we help her blow out the candles? Is anyone else coming?

“I’m here! Let’s eat cake and ice cream!” Cathy shouted as soon as she opened her car door. She had made a one-stop shopping trip at the grocery store and she handed my older Grands, ages 7 and 9, packages to open. Birthday plates and napkins decorated with balloons. My five-year-old Grand put a candle on each of the dozen cupcakes. Six chocolate decorated with white icing. Six yellow, iced with chocolate. All with multi-colored sprinkles.

I opened the packaged individual ice cream cups. Chocolate and vanilla swirl. My three-year-old Grand put a small plastic spoon on top of each ice cream cup and Daughter passed out the individual packages of fruit drinks. This event had to be documented with a picture. I got my camera ready and Daughter, Cathy, and my Grands gathered close to each other.

“Wait!” said Cathy, “I forgot something.” She pulled two more packages out of a plastic grocery bag. Two packages with black looking hair. “They didn’t have birthday hats so I got mustaches!”

Mustaches. Black, fuzzy, stick-on mustaches. Cathy stuck hers on first. Then Daughter and four of my Grands, ages 3-9, and they all giggled and squealed.   Once again they grouped together for a picture. “What about Micah?” asked my oldest Grand. Micah, age four months, sat calmly in Cathy’s lap amid all the chaos. And he wasn’t exactly happy about having something stuck right under his nose, but he and his brother and sisters wore their first mustaches – long enough for a picture.

“Happy Birthday” has never been sung louder or more off key. Every cup of ice cream was eaten.   The icing on every cupcake was licked off and the cakes nibbled. Such laughing. Such a happy time. So much fun.

So, following Cathy’s example, I made plans for today. There’ll be children and cake and ice cream. No mustaches. Maybe a surprise or two. Surprises for those who celebrate with me.

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