When my sister-in-law and I were planning the 18th birthday party for a nephew today, we decided he probably would still want a birthday cake. In fact, we remembered birthday cakes still feeling special well into our twenties, when we could get them.
I’m not sure why birthday cakes feel special to me so much, looking through family photos. Birthday cakes in our house were very rare. I imagine that my mother didn’t want them in the house for the same reason that I don’t want them in my house — a small piece to celebrate a special occasion is fine, but what the heck do you do with the leftovers? Maybe I appreciated birthday cakes in my twenties because I didn’t get as many as I might have wanted when I was living at home.
Since my birthday is in May and my brother’s is in August, for many years, our birthday celebrations happened at Busch Stadium. The birthday boy or girl got to bring a friend. We had many great experiences and, even now, that feels like something that defined our family in a way that birthday cakes never could.
These days, birthdays get a small amount of attention. For a few years after Mother died, my birthday made me sad. No one alive was present at my birth. Plus, my May 12 birthday always fell near (occasionally on) Mother’s Day so we often had a dual family celebration. I’m very happy that for her last Mother’s Day, we took Mother to a baseball game during the last season at old Busch Stadium.
Now, most years, my brother, Dale, takes us out on my birthday and we take him and his crew out for his birthday. Sometimes, we’ll also manage some low key event like a day at the Missouri Botanical Garden or a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum.
Check out more October Memoir posts at Jane Ann McLachlan’s blog: October Memoir Challenge.
What do you do to celebrate birthdays? Are they less of a big deal now than they were when you were younger, or more?