It's interesting how the format of birthday celebrations changes with the passing years.
So I was thinking yesterday at my eldest granddaughter's Early Birthday which
we celebrated with pink champagne, no less. And instead of sausage rolls, crisps, jelly and ice-cream, we indulged in a take-away curry. I was reminded of a cousin's birthday party attended by the Eldest and the Middle Darling Daughters when they were small
- the young guests sat down to a full roast dinner, with all the trimmings. "There wasn't any proper party food!" they reported, bitterly, afterwards. Times - and tastes - change.
I don't remember birthday
celebrations when I was a littl'un - but I do know, somehow, that birthdays were treated as Special Occasions by my parents. How do I know this, you may ask, with so little evidence to prove my case? Well, for a starter, I always recall being told that the
first roses bloomed on my birthday. Just as my Little Sister was informed that shuffling through the Autumn leaves on the pavement meant her birthday was almost here. Funny, isn't it, that birthday celebrations don't figure in our memories but when the buds
appear on the rose bushes or the leaves on the trees turn yellow and brown and gold, we will each in our turn say: "It must be my birthday soon..."?
I do remember my tenth birthday. A local shop-keeper, informed
by my dear Dad that it was my birthday, gave me a bar of chocolate, all to myself. I like to think I may have shared it but, to be honest, my memory doesn't stretch that far. That was also the birthday when we went to the cinema to see a film called "Jacqueline"
all about a girl who had the face and the voice of an angel but indulged in very in-angelic behaviour. One day I will track down a copy of that film and watch it again, preferably on my birthday.
In more recent
years, significant birthdays have been marked by Family Holidays, one in a beautiful gîte in Normandy, the next, ten years later, in a converted barn in Deepest Devon. I suspect the whole family is wondering what I might have planned for next year...
This morning in Church, we learnt that one of the congregation was celebrating her 100th birthday. We had sparkling wine and slices of fruit cake and sang "Happy Birthday to You" with vim and vigour. The Birthday Girl,
Marjorie, dressed in powder blue and elegant in a way that I will never manage even if I live to be a hundred myself, made a sweet and heartfelt speech about how much her "Church Family" meant to her. When I went to congratulate her, she told me she had had
a "full and happy life". I would like to have asked her if she always knew when her birthday was approaching because of the blossom on the trees.
Our Katie will celebrate her Birthday Proper next Saturday.
On Friday, she tells me, she has to take cakes into work - another of those birthday traditions that only happen when you are, like Katie, a Working Gal. I'm so glad we managed to fit in an Early Birthday Celebration yesterday.
Now I am trying to work out how to get to the next Family Birthday, the fourth birthday of the Duracell Bunny in May. Now that I can't miss! It's a bit of a logistical nightmare, given time, distance and other prior arrangements - but where there's
a will, there's always a way.
Birthdays are special, whether you are four, or nineteen or, indeed, a Great Age. They are special whatever the season, when the roses bloom, or the Autumn leaves fall or the
blossom hangs heavy from the trees. It doesn't matter if you eat sausage rolls and crisps, or quaff pink champagne.
The only thing that really matters is Being There.