I think this was July 2015… years, reunions, birthdays all blur. We had the whole Nemec crew to Fire Island. For weeks we brought out food, drink, extra towels, so many supplies we broke a wagon, an industrial wagon. Weeks of preparation for 3-5 nights of family, games, eating, and more games, it is always worth it. Seeing the cousins together, getting to know my nieces and nephews, it is delicious. Some reunions include my actual birth day. This might mean a strawberry shortcake made by the “kids” or a plant purchased and installed in our FI garden by the crew. I am a recovering birthdayphobe so it is always a little nervous making for me, but this group always celebrates in a simple and nonintrusive way. Swoon.
Birthdays. Oh I had lovely parties as a kid. My mom baked and we played games. It was so so hot, thighs sticking to the plastic seats as we played musical chairs or hot potato. Like the song, many parties ended in tears, I found being the center of attention trying. Aging into nice dinners with the family or a show in the city was a relief. My dad hated when I picked a show. Pricey, Manhattan in the summer, looking for free parking, not his favorite…but really, how can you not be happy seeing Debbie Allen in the West Side Story revival…he was not happy.
I think my real birthdayphobia kicked in the day I turned 18. I was working at David’s Cookies. My friends were all busy babysitting or vacationing so it was going to be a pretty unfestive evening after serving cookies and ice-cream cones all day. Arriving at work I found 25 boxes (at 50 pounds each) of frozen cookie dough outside the store. The manager, who was 19, decided not to show up. Propping the front and freezer doors open (having learned a thing or two from The Brady Bunch…there was no way I was getting stuck in a freezer) box by box I put the dough into its rightful place. Arriving home after a 6am to 6pm shift exhausted and a bit down…to have my mom and Aunt Jean pop out the front door while singing (screaming) happy birthday and running towards me with wild waving arms…making a complete scene for all the neighborhood to see. I walked past them and decided I was cursed. Newly minted 18 year olds can be a bit self absorbed.
The thing is…when you declare yourself cursed, you become cursed. This all went on for years, I missed out on many beautiful days because I was looking for the disaster that was about to happen. Don’t get me wrong, many times they were really crappy days, but the magic started as soon as I decided I really did not care what happened on July 1st. No planning, no expectations. Just live it as another day (with cake of course).
What I found was that not expecting goodness created such goodness. Last year in lockdown, with my son across the country, not being able to be at the beach or see friends, I had the most delightfully perfect birthday.
This year my kids surprised me with a Mother’s Day/Birthday gift…an overnight for just me and my guy…a lovely bit of quiet and calm. Having kids who really get me…who know what makes me smile…now THAT is the best gift ever. Swoon.