Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Year Older

 That picture of me on my first birthday was the first of many wonderful, happy parties.  This first one was spent quietly at my grandparents house where we were living, with my Godparents in attendance.  The cake was a lovely buttercream with a pretty blonde haired doll popping out of the middle.   I don't believe they had smash cakes way back in the 50's, and besides that, I was much too dignified to get icing all over my party dress.   My mother would always order a beautiful chocolate cake with buttercream frosting for all of our birthday parties.   Mine usually had ballerina's dancing around the edge, my brothers mostly had circus figures and they were the most delicious cakes made by our favorite local bakery.   They don't make them like that anymore.   It's become a lost art to make a delicious cake.  But that's a subject for another day.   We're here to celebrate my birthdays.
 My birthday is June 28th and I had many, many birthday parties all documented in our family albums.  My mother always said my parties fell on the hottest day of the year - I'm sure that was a slight exaggeration but this is in the era where it was a luxury to have an air conditioned house and my mother always had my parties either on the covered patio or in the garage.   It was sweltering in either location.   My scratchy, itchy party dress would stick to me, making me so uncomfortable but being the party girl I was, I never let on that I was uncomfortable.   That would have been unheard of.  I loved dressing up.   I just wish my birthday had fallen on a cool autumn day or the early days of winter.  But, I made due with the birthday I was given and in every pose, there is no clue that I'm feeling like a drenched washcloth.   My guests were troupers as well and went along trying to enjoy the festivities as best they could on the "hottest day of the year".   Of course it helped that they were bribed with all kind of party favors, prizes from games played like musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.  My childhood parties were always a mixture of cousins, school chums and neighbors, but mostly the cousins.   There would be tons of food, my moms fabulous sloppy joes, hot dogs and chips and lots of bottles of Canfields flavored pop.  My favorite flavor was fruit punch.   It just wasn't a kids party without fruit punch which did nothing to quench your thirst on the "hottest day of the
year".   There were little cups of spanish peanuts and pastel mints at each childs place setting, blow out horns with paper fringe, decorated sunglasses, party hats, plastic leis, balloons, party cups and matching plates with some festive birthday decoration - Martha Stewart eat your heart out -  and the "Piece de resistance", a cake decorated so beautifully with sugary buttery cream made into colorful roses, with my name written on top, toasted coconut pressed around the sides of the cake.  Oh, it was too pretty to cut, but once my wish was made and the candles were blown, it was time to forget about how pretty it was and savor the creamy sweetness of the chocolate cake, the fresh strawberry filling and that wonderful buttercream frosting.  Oh, please let there be left over cake for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.   I alway observed the way my mother handled cutting my cakes, not wanting my guests to get too big a piece, after all, I didn't want to be responsible for them getting a  tummy ache.   Just big enough for them to enjoy and me to have extra cake for the rest of the week.   To me the cakes were and still are better than all the gifts I could ever receive.  Well, except for that 40th birthday when I drove off the car lot that night with a candy apple red Sebring convertible.
 So, this year will not be a milestone birthday except that it is a year spent cancer free, so I will be spending it quietly with my husband and parents which is fine.   I've had the parties and have lovely memories and pictures to last a lifetime.  I enjoy quieter birthdays as I get older with time spent reflecting on all the journeys I've gone through in my 57 years.   My life has been great so far and I'm looking to celebrating ( quietly ) many more in  an air conditioned home or restaurant, not out in the sweltering heat in a sticky, scratchy party dress.   Those days are over.   Comfort rules!  Happy Birthday to me !   And thank you Mom for the best birthday parties ever!!!

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