My family knows I’m a HUGE birthday fan—even more than Christmas. In my book, birthdays are important because they mean you’ve made it through another year. And the recent Covid years make us all keenly aware of how lucky we are to say that. Making a big fuss over someone else’s birthday is a way of saying “I think you’re special and I’m glad you’re here.”
As a child, I had a birthday party every year. In the early years, they were pretty tame, but well attended. Here is a photo of my Kindergarten party with the whole class there! Where in the world my mother put them all in our small Bungalow, I have no idea. I’m in front, wearing a self-satisfied smile, like the queen, which I was for that that day.
A dollar bought the typical birthday gift—maybe a small doll, toy car or a book. The “entertainment” for these early parties always included Pin the Tail on the Donkey and sometimes a guessing game, each with prizes for the winner.
Later the parties shrank in size, but not in length, like the teenage slumber parties mentioned in an earlier post. The “gifts” for these parties were the great times we had, leaving indelible memories.
My favorite birthday happened when I turned 39. Being the clever guy that he is, my husband decided NOT to wait till my 40th birthday to make a big splash—too obvious. As he left for work on the big day, he left behind an official-looking notice which said, “Be ready at 5 pm, when your transport will arrive. The babysitter will arrive at 4:30.”
As I told my friends later, yes, the celebration was wonderful, but the BEST part was that my husband hired the babysitter. Remember those calluses on your dialing finger from calling multiple teenagers and begging them to watch your kids while they ate you out of house and home and collected a kings’ ransom?
Promptly at 5 pm as promised, an antique Rolls Royce arrived out front and the chauffeur rolled out a red carpet. I sashayed to my limo, just like a movie star. Our first stop was to pick up my husband at his office and then we were whisked off to a fancy dinner at Jean Louis. It was the only time in my life I ate alligator. When I inquired about its taste, the server dismissively said, “Oh, it tastes just like crocodile.”
After our wonderful dinner we went to see Crazy for You at the National Theater, and when we came out, there was our car and driver waiting, with a bottle of champagne chilled down in the back seat. From there he took us to the Hay Adams and waited for us to cap off the night before taking us home. Quite an evening!
For us Old School types, who’ve celebrated many birthdays, I say it’s almost worth getting old to have them. Almost.