birthdays

In our home, half of our birthdays occur within five weeks (exactly!) of each other, from early March to early April–Evva, Anne, and myself. I think of it as the birthday “month”.

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Around here, birthdays are important days to be honored. When I was young, the chair of the birthday child wad decorated, there was always a homemade cake, presents, and family party, and usually there was a party with friends. William and I carry on these birthday traditions and have added a few more. It is a nice way to honor the birthday person and celebrate their entry into this world.

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My grandmother (Mom-mom) brought most of the birthday traditions to the family when she married my grandfather (Dado) and moved to his family’s farm, where they lived with his parents, brother, and sister. For a few weeks after they settled in, during the summer, the family would get dressed up every Friday afternoon and go to town to visit the market and do shopping. The week before my grandfather’s birthday, during one of these to-town trips, my grandmother went to the bakery and secretly ordered a birthday cake to be made and picked up the next week. The next Friday, my grandmother was excited but thought it odd that no one mentioned her husband’s birthday. She got dressed after dinner and ready to go town but was dismayed when the men headed back to the fields. She started crying and my grandfather asked her what was wrong. She had to admit that she had ordered a cake for him thinking they would be going to town as normal. I think he was bemused by his “city” bride (his family did not celebrate birthdays), perhaps a little put out to have to give up an afternoon of work to drive her to town to pick up his birthday cake. But, he did it, and that experience established the importance of honoring birthdays in our family.

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