Monday, July 20, 2015

“Sandy, of course, is “chomping at the bit,” waiting word from you as to when you are going to pick her up. And that reminds me. . . I see that the date is 23 July! Sandy is nine years old today. Such a big girl we have. All we have been hearing for the past month is what she will get for her birthday—how many days before her birthday—how much money will I have after my birthday!! But, bless her heart, she’s a good little girl and very deserving of the meager gifts we can give her. Her piano is coming along good again. She has just taken on herself to play all of her old lesson books, and I have managed to get some new ones for her, all of which she takes in her stride. As soon as we get back to Detroit, we will get her started with a teacher again.”

     In my efforts to preserve the tradition of letter-writing, I begin by quoting the above from a letter my father wrote to my Grandfather. As I get ready to celebrate my birthday 63 years later, I chuckle at the words he used. Mr. Wonderful and I joke about how it’s always birthday “month” around here. Yup. I like to celebrate as long as I can get away with it, and had I not found the above letter, I would not have known the origin of that tradition. 

     Do you remember your life as a nine-year-old? If you have young children, you are undoubtedly comparing the life you have created for them with the one you experienced. Times have changed considerably, yet our basic needs and emotions never change. 

     I no longer think about what I will “get” for my birthday; I think about what I will order online for my birthday and make it from Mr. Wonderful. I certainly don’t think about how much money I will have after my birthday, as I will have spent it all. I do think about how many days before my birthday, and I have learned that any expectations about birthday gifts or celebrations are dangerous. Once we have left our FOO, birthdays can change depending on the birthday traditions of our spouses. Some people make a big deal about it; while others just ignore the day. Many of my friends don’t want to admit their age, yet they still are little kids at heart about gifts and celebrating. Ironically, my husband’s ex-wife and I used to joke about how we hated birthdays because the reality never matched what we had imagined. The two of us still exchange birthday cards by snail mail. (another story)

     This year, I asked my oldest daughter to hold my gift I can celebrate a month later with her and my grandsons. She was delighted, and I know I will feel like I’m nine again when I blow out the candles on one of her fabulous homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

     It will be interesting to see if I even get a birthday card from daughter #2 as she is busy getting Justin Timberlake’s autograph somewhere out west. She might pick me up a silly card in the airport on the way to her next rock concert. 

     So are birthdays’ over-rated? Maybe so, but letters aren’t. I plan to pre-address envelopes to several family members this week and begin to write letters again like I did so many years ago. I now realize how precious they are, and I want my grand-children to be chuckling over mine long after I’m gone. They will know that I’m struttin’ my stuff behind the Golden Gates for July 1st to 31st.

P.S.  As I re-read this post, I realize that I am reliving so many memories of weeks spent with my wonderful loving grandparents, the fun of opening gifts with my family, the innocence of counting days until a birthday, the perceptions of our parents that were never verbalized. Letters are true treasures, and I am celebrating my birthday with these gifts.