Well today is number 65. This is one of a handful of birthdays not spent at home, in Michigan. My family always laughs because I typically say I will be home after Christmas for my birthday, because that is my tradition. My Grandma Orr and I often commiserated about our post Christmas birthdays. Hers was the 26th, even worse than mine! I remember her driving out to Thornhill on one wintry birthday to bring me a canister with the Lennon Sisters paperdolls inside. I loved it, my first paperdolls. Birthdays were simple in those days with my mom making a special dinner and simple gifts.
But when I hit double digits, birthdays meant going to Traverse City to Win Schuelers for my favorite shrimp dinner. I loved the warm cavern feel of the restaurant, a candle glowing in the center of the table and of course the warm fresh loaf of bread, just waiting to be topped with real butter!
Then in my mid teens, a few birthdays were slumber parties with my group of friends, my parents were not very fond of those parties, and we could often hear the words “go to bed!” drift down through the heat register, as the clock ticked past midnight. In the morning, my mom and Dad would make a special breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage before taking home my sleep deprived buddies.
We will skip over my late teens and early twenties, not sure if I remember too much of those birthdays: my wild days.
Since this special day always falls during the holidays, some of my later celebrations fell while on a trip. One such birthday was a post college trip in my early twenties. It involved a trip in my new VW bug (crayon orange) with my friend Connie to visit our friend Linda, who had moved back to New Jersey and was doing social work in Newark (that challenge didn’t last long). I think on that adventure we side tripped to Philadelphia and the Art Museum (my first big city art museum) and visited her family in Medford.
Another holiday birthday was a trip to visit a H.S. friend, Nancy, living in the Big Apple. That trip included 3 Broadway shows and a backstage tour of the MET, and MOMA, very memorable!
But the late twenties brought more caution, so I combined my birthday and New Year’s Eve. The tradition of an afternoon birthday and dinner and getting home before nine, became the new norm. Some of my favorite restaurants were the Top of the Park, Bower’s Harbor, the Rathskeller, and more recently, the Manitou.
Friends, Howard and Betsy cruised through my 32nd birthday for one of the best cruises in the Carribean. We snorkled, dined, and shopped through the Lesser Antilles (6 of the islands). Betsy always remembers that I said I was NOT going to gain weight on the cruise, because I was going to get up early every morning and work out. Well that didn’t happen, a great plan, though. My birthday and New Year’s Eve included a cocktail party with the captain ( my first taste of cavier) and a concluding dinner of waiters parading into the darkened dining room, each with a flaming Baked Alaskas hoisted over their shoulder! What a spectacular and more importantly, delicious treat!
I will mention there have been some sad or low point birthdays darkened with the passing of loved ones no longer present to join in the celebration. Those birthday passed quietly.
So why am I writing this, you ask? So one day when it is hard to draw up past memories I can look at this with a smile of remebrance. And now I will end this sentimental journey with one of the most beautiful birthdays. It was a 40 something birthday dinner in a restaurant located on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The rim was frosted with fresh snow that topped the deep orange and browns of the canyon below. It a was magical evening watching the shadows of night creep over the canyon from the east. It was one of those moments that one wishes time would stop so you could so fully enjoy it before it slipped away.
Most birthdays now are spent quietly with no big deal, often an ordinary day, spent with a loved one or ones and thanking God for another year.
Cheers! (Jane Stone Tonn-Kreski)