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Birthday Streak

By last Thursday, I was ready to give up on birthdays (not everyone’s; just mine). It just seemed that weather or illness or post-holiday fatigue always gets in the way, and has done so from the very beginning.

My birthday is January 6. Not because my mom went into labor and naturally delivered me on January 6, but because my mom’s obstetrician looked at her belly (big), looked at the forecast (blizzard), and decided that I had better make my arrival while he and my mom could both arrive at the hospital. So she was induced and my birthday was scheduled around the weather for the first of many times.  

Two childhood birthdays stand out in my memory. There was the one where I had lollipops for my first grade class, which ended up arriving in class about three weeks late owing to a blizzard. And then there was the year my mom made her best cake ever, which I enthusiastically if indelicately described to my Bubbie over the phone. Over the phone because there had been a blizzard and Bubbie couldn’t get to my house. Indelicately because, with child-like brutal honesty, I told my Bubbie that “Mom finally made a decent cake, and no one can come see it.”

Flash forward 25 years or so, and I can recall the birthday I spent in a lonely hotel room on a work trip. And the birthday where Simon and I were sick as dogs. Last year I just decided not to plan much, and that worked out pretty well. This year we had to cancel a family dinner due to—you guessed it—snow. And Friday morning I had to cancel my scheduled massage because school was out as a result of the same snow that canceled my Thursday dinner.

By Friday morning, day 7 or so in a record-setting cold snap, I was feeling birthday cursed. And then something funny happened; my birthday came together in a pretty delightful way, if not the way I had envisioned.

Friday night Matt and I hauled Simon over to my mom’s so he could get some Bubbie time. (She had canceled her planned visit that week because of, well, you know…) Simon was delighted to see her and get out of the house, and he spent several hours in a happy fit of hyperactivity that was wonderful to witness. Then my mom gave me my present:

Bubbie and Zadie's Anniversary Tea Set

Bubbie and Zadie's Anniversary Tea Set

I’ve been lusting after this for a long, long time, and I’m over the moon to finally get my greedy hands on it. It’s not just that I love old silver sets and think that this looks great in my dining room. It’s that it belonged to my grandparents, having been a gift from my Bubbie’s siblings on the occasion of her and my Zadie’s 25th wedding anniversary. Amusingly, while the tray, sugar bowl, and creamer saw heavy use in their life before me, the teapot itself has only been used twice—both times when I borrowed it from my mother. I am about ready to make up for lost time, starting with a Passover seder I plan to host this March.

Then Saturday night I had a great dinner with friends (the parents of two of Simon’s friends), where we managed to socialize for three hours and barely discuss our kids. Finding out that one of my favorite dishes there involves lard (oops!) and the other chicken stock (oops!) was a bit of a downer, but who knew we had three hours of non-kid stuff to talk about? It was a lovely and adult change of pace for me, and I hope for them, too.

Finally, Sunday night my Dad hosted a party for all family January birthdays. (Among my siblings, nieces, and nephews there are four of us.) It was a fun, festive, and pretty democratic gathering, except that I alone among the grownups was gifted by nearly everyone on account of my birthday being “a big one.” I was also, perhaps for the first time, allowed to commiserate with my (older) sisters-in-law about strategies for skin, dressing at “a certain age”, and strategies for pesky grays without their threatening to defenestrate me.

And the best present of all? My 8-years younger, hipster cousin who, bless his heart (no, really, in the literal not Southern sense of the phrase) looked at me with open shock when I told him which birthday this was.

So thanks, all, for making my birthday if not exactly what I had planned, as warm and memorable as I had hoped.

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