Birthdays were always recognized when I was growing up. More often than not, they were home affairs with neighborhood children, Kool-Aid, and a home-baked cake. Sometimes there were party games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and sometimes we were left to our own devices, running around the yard and playing with the gifts while the grownups chatted amongst themselves. Some birthdays were more sedate, just a simple dinner out with family at a restaurant.
This sounds like a slice of Americana, the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings. Until you figure in the locations--emphasis on the plural. My mother, the ultimate Army wife that she was, made sure we had birthday celebrations in
- San Fernando, California (multiple times)
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Fort Hood, Texas
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Naples, Italy
- San Jose, California
- Stuttgart, Germany
- El Paso, Texas
- Hanau, Germany (for my brother, not me)
For some of our birthdays, she was on her own as my father was deployed overseas. Her parents' home in San Fernando was the setting for those celebrations. Whatever the details, there was always the recognition of our special day.
My mother did not let her circumstances affect her desire, her need, to celebrate. That's a lesson worth remembering.