Saturday, July 30, 2011

"It takes a long time to grow young." ~ Pablo Picasso

1st Birthday
So today is my birthday.  Whoop-de-doo.  Surely seemed like a much bigger deal when I was a kid.  I remember the excitement, the anticipation of the party and the cake and the presents!

There were basically three possibilities for my actual birthday party: a picnic at Eyre Park, a gathering at home of family or of my classmates. Each of these variations had its own appeal. Eyre Park was a tiny oasis of trees, water and sand in between my parents’ farm and my maternal grandparents’ farm, about six or seven miles from each farm. Oh we kids thought it was great to get to Eyre. We could swim (in a big slough), climb trees (and get a million mosquito bites) cook food outdoors (burned dropped wieners and scorched smoking marshmallows) jump off the big sand dunes (and bite clean through our tongues upon landing as one poor unfortunate cousin did) and generally forget for the hours that we were there that we lived on the dry dusty and hot Prairies. We kids really thought it an oasis, a little piece of magic where we could pretend that we were really on a vacation. Fifty years later, I marvel at what Eyre Park really looks like. Was it always that small, that bare, with a dried up slough and surrounded by stunted prairie wind-blown trees? Oh through the eyes of a child!

Most birthdays were celebrated at home mainly with family. It was hard to organize a birthday party with one’s classmates when it was summer holidays. My mom always made me a wonderful angel food cake for my birthday.  That was standard in our house. Mom made the highest and fluffiest angel food cakes in our neighborhood. I know the secret (thanks Mom) and no, I am not sharing it here. Usually the cake had the cooked egg whites and white sugar frosting that was known as “Seven Minute Frosting” in our neck of the woods.  I loved that cake and that frosting so much that I made the same cake and frosting for my five children’s birthdays. I am not sure if they appreciated it like I did.  Maybe I should have asked?  That cake and frosting became a tradition for my children whether they liked it or not!.

Looks like four candles!

Usually just before or just after the birthday meal, Mom would line us up in a straight line outdoors for the customary birthday ‘snaps’. Those pictures are treasures today even if I cannot singlehandedly identify all of the faces.

My birthday at Eyre Park (double click for more detail)

The birthday I remember most vividly was my 16th.  I asked for and got a truly adult- type dinner party for about eight friends.  It was a sit-down dinner, no burned wieners or scorched marshmallows.  My mom outdid herself in the kitchen that day- fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, and salads galore crowned with an English trifle dessert.  Let me tell you that trifle was tres exotic in my opinion!  I had tasted English trifle at my Aunt Bett’s house (she married a real Englishman you know) and I asked for it as the dessert. Why my mom even put up with me asking for this dinner party, let alone cooking it, serving it and cleaning up after it is truly beyond me. It is not like the end of July is a slow time on the farm and she had nothing better to do. She was a busy farm wife. Where she stashed my three siblings for the party, I don’t know, maybe  in the basement eating peanut butter sandwiches. I know my dad would have been in the field until dark.  I remember that birthday party so well. Maybe someday I will get the chance to host a special birthday party for her and her friends.  I think I prepare ‘sit-down adult-type dinner parties’ fairly well now, and I would love to do one for her.

Nowadays birthdays come and go with a minimum of fuss and that is how I like it.  I used to enjoy my birthdays.  I proudly stated my age publicly until I hit the 50 year mark.  Yikes!  That 50th birthday nearly did me in.  I kept thinking that 50 marked the end of my dreams, hopes, and aspiration.  I assumed 50 marked the beginning of my physical and mental decline.  Thanks goodness I got over that. Well sort of.  No longer do I share my age except to say I am in my fifties. I realize that most of my work colleagues are much younger than me and I don’t want to stress them out by admitting my exact age. It might be more than they can take.  They might tell their friends that they work with a seriously old person (me) because 50 is outside their comfort zone. I remember thinking along those lines in my faraway past!  Also helping me get over the 50th birthday was the realization that the mental and physical declines were well-established before I hit 50, I simply had been in denial. That is another topic for another day entirely. J

So today I say to myself: Happy Birthday Old Girl! Remember Picasso's words about how long it takes to get 'young' and enjoy the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years on your way there. Life is good. Birthdays are one way to celebrate life.


  1. Craving posts, eh? Well maybe this post will be telling everyone how old you are. You are . . . in your 50s! You think I am going to tell people how old I am?

    Happy Birthday Cindy, and hopefully Ron does a better job with the food than Uncle Gary did with the burnt wieners (we all know Aunt Dorothy can't burn a meal . . .).

    As for the family picutre, who is the kid that looks just like TJ, complete with the "why am I here" look?

  2. Well done! That little post warmed my heart and gave me an inside look at your youth that I've never had before. Thank you for sharing. :)

  3. Well done--love it!!!

  4. Well I have got to say, very interesting blog! I love the photos and the story along with it. I can spot Uncle Gar, Aunt Do, Uncle Edwin and Aunt Loreena. I loved your 'About Me' post as well, with particular reference to the 2 different lives. When Robin Williams said 'seize the day' I never fully understood it. But now I do...SEIZE the DAY!!! :) keep posting Cind!

  5. Thanks Big Len, Angelina Marie, Anonymous and Darcy for your comments. Big Len, I think you are referring to Cathy when you talk about a TJ lookalike.:)Darcy, I will send you a message with the actual names of the other folks in the picture. Thanks for your kind words, and the motto of "Seize the day" is a good one to adopt!

  6. Love the black and white pictures. Sweet 16, I too remember my sixteenth.

  7. Thanks Jean! It really was sweet to turn 16, wasn't it? I know I thought I was SO grown-up, all-knowing and wise. HA! Then reality set in. Grown up became grown old and all-knowing became know nothing!I am still pursuing wisdom!


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