Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Listicles: 10 Wonderful Things about BIRTHDAYS

I haven't done Stasha’s Monday Listicles in a dog's age. But today's topic is "BIRTHDAYS" and as the boys turn 10 at the end of this week and my (Ahem!) significantly-more-than-that birthday (52nd) is not far behind, I though I'd better participate.

And I want to be fun and light today, as my life so is NOT at this moment... so (conjuring frothy, frothy thoughts from the far recesses of my brain) here is my list of:


1.  People have to be really nice to you. OR you can make them feel really guilty if they're not. Either way, it's a win. (Wait, did I just say that out loud?)

2.  Birthday cakes. And have I ever told you I make kick-ass ones for my boys? No? See here:


3.  Childhood memories - mine. I could tell you about pretty much all the birthdays of my childhood: beach picnics and backyard barbecues, pointy pink party hats and unwrapping beloved barbie dolls. For a few years we found ourselves in Maine with my cousins' family in mid-August, and as Annette's birthday is a scant four days after mine, we would make these marvelous co-celebratory lobster dinners.

Another thing that occurs regularly in mid-August is the Pleiades meteor shower. One night in  Maine, smack in the middle of our birthdays, I remember the grown-ups waking all the kids up and hustling us outdoors in our PJs at midnight, wrapped in quilts and blankets to lie on the ground and look up at the heavens.  I saw the sky above us exploding in light as a seeming million stars streaked across, some appearing to travel all the way down to the cliffs we lay atop, to douse themselves into the ocean that lay just beyond.

4.  Childhood memories - creating them for the kids. Since we live in the city and don't have a yard, backyard barbecues are definitely out. We do, however, live right near a great city park - Riverside Park. And thus for the first seven years of their lives, the boys had wonderful, huge, blowout parties in the park.

This meant we could invite everyone we wanted to, whole families always welcome. And we got incredibly lucky, because summer afternoons in NYC? Often means thunderstorms. But for seven years (7!) in a row, we had good weather on their birthday party days. And then finally for their 8th birthday I had the feeling our luck had run its course, plus the boys were getting big for just running amok or being entertained by a very patient clown.

Boys Birthday Party 2006
So we're now doing events. This year: a movie (Ice Age: Continental Drift) followed by pizza, followed by a behind the scenes tour at our local Rita's Ices (where we have become friends with the manager) and actually getting to help make a batch of Italian ice. And then eating it, of course.

5.  Having a nice quiet dinner alone with my husband. (Stop laughing, we may have actually pulled this off once or twice.)

6.  Having a cousin who paves the way for me. You may have heard me mention this before, but my other cousin, Jessie, the sister to Annette, is nearly exactly my age, having been born four months ahead of me, in April. We were incredibly close as children, and still are in ways I can't begin to describe, even if a month can go by, these currently busy days, without a phone call.

And thus I have always had four months to adjust to whatever age I am about to turn. Having the certain knowledge in the pit of my being that Jess and I are "the same age" as soon as she flips over to the next digit, I feel a part of me doing so in lock-step up as well.

So unlike folks who cling to their previous age until the day before their birthday, fighting the inevitable tooth and claw, I will find myself claiming to be my next age, quite unconsciously, from mid April on. Therefore all the possible trauma about aging has been removed from my actual birthday, and it's just a good excuse to eat and drink well, with people I love. Win-win.

7.  Being a tourist in my own city. For years I had a tradition of celebrating my birthday by doing the kind of fun, touristy things we tend to do only when we have out of town visitors, but doing them instead with a close friend or two, a mate, or by myself if necessary. I've been up to the top of the Empire State Building, out to see the Statue of Liberty, and circled my city on a tour boat.

What stands out the most is my birthday spent up at the top of the World Trade Towers, observing the city and surrounds from the observation deck, followed by lunch at Windows on the World. I had imagined taking my (as yet unconceived) kids there someday. Gone. Gone. Gone.

8.  Recalling, vividly, every year of my kids lives. As birthday time rolls around I always start to marvel again at how big they've grown in just a year, how far they have come in their development, albeit at different paces.  It sends me to the photo album - OK, technically to the virtual one that is the iPhoto program on my computer - to look up birthdays and years past, loving simultaneously the little boys they were and the big boys they have become.

9.  Recalling, vividly, every moment of the day my boys were born. Ethan and Jacob came into this world a scant twelve days shy of my own (42nd) birthday, and therefore I have claimed them as my best birthday present EVER.

At our birthday time, and especially ON their actual birthday I find myself reliving that whole special day; from the incredible anticipation of leaving our home as two, knowing that we would be returning as four, to the first time I laid eyes on my darling boys and my heart instantly tripled in size, to my first sleepless night with their little burrito-bundled bodies in my arms.

(Unless it's also the day of their party that year, when I would find myself running around like an exhausted headless chicken, getting everything and everybody ready for the ensuing fun and mayhem.)

10.   Cake. I know I listed it twice. Because it IS. JUST. THAT. GOOD. Especially homemade. Especially when topped with ice cream.

And there you have it folks. Not a single word about death or autism. For today, at least. Tune in tomorrow...


  1. Those cakes are amazing! And what great 42nd birthday presents!

  2. That's wonderful that you have a such a great relationship with your cousin. Compared to a lot of my friends from school, I have a late birthday, so I always got used to being a year older before I actually turned it.
    I also like to do activities for the kids' birthdays. We've done swimming and ice skating recently. Much better than trying to cram everyone into our house!

  3. You had me at cake. And then you topped it with ice cream?! Love how you ttreat yourself to a tour of your own city.
    Happy Birthday to your two lovely boys!


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