Well, today is my birthday. Today marks the start of my fifty fourth lap around the sun. (That means I'm 53, BTW).
While birthdays aren't the big deal they once were, they're still a day when you expect just a little extra coddling or TLC. Give a person one day a year to feel a little special. Make them a cake or get them a card, or just wish them a great day.
In trying to think back to birthdays that were especially significant or memorable I can come up with a few.
Of course there were the childhood birthdays where the whole family gathered around and you were the man of the hour, for just about an hour. The Betty Crocker boxed cakes with boxed frosting were the best! Mom, or sometimes, my sisters, would make the double-decker cake with frosting between the layers. If she'd had a long day, we would have to settle for the lower maintenance 9 X 13" pan cake. And you know what? That was fine with us. It all tasted good and with 6 kids, it never lasted more than a day or two.
All of us would gather around the kitchen table after a meal of meatloaf, tacos or maybe pork chops, and mom would light the candles on the cake that was just about the best thing going. She'd start us singing and almost without fail one of my brothers or sisters would make a face during the singing which usually cracked me up. Then I'd blow out the candles and she'd dish it out to the six of us. Family doing family stuff. What a great life.
Later, a tradition was started by one of us where we were served an angel food cake with chocolate frosting, and that soon became the de-facto standard cake. I've had one of those almost every year since. The only downside to those is they have about a 3 day shelf life. Then they become too sponge-flattened to cut and are not good.
Then there was my 30th birthday. It was a "surprise party" that I thought I had figured out, then forgot about and it turned out I was completely caught off guard. My wife and mom went out to dinner and when we came home there was a house full of my friends and family. I was dumbstruck. It turned out to be probably one of the best birthdays I've had.
Just getting to chat with everybody and getting all my loved ones and friends in a room (without it being my funeral) was pretty cool. I remember my brother Rob pulling me into the wash room a time or two for a surprise birthday shot of Jack. Those might have had some bearing on my telling stories of how to snipe hunt at night with a burlap sack to my wife and mother in the wee hours of the morning, but I'm not sure. It was 23 years ago, after all.
And of course, I remember my 50th. I explicitly asked for no surprise and not a lot of pomp and circumstance. My wife organized a small gathering of close friends and family. We ate, had cake and laughed and talked. It was low key and wonderful. Chocolate angel food cake was served per the tradition and so it went. A great day,
This year I am celebrating in a different way. I was invited to speak to the Friends of the Pewaukee Library after their business meeting which happened to fall on Dec. 11th. I was flattered and could not turn down the opportunity. And so I'll spend the night talking to friends about my book.
What more could a 53 year old ask? I'm just happy to be here.