Just recently Bronwyn celebrated her birthday..we as a family love birthdays and celebrate them with love, and gifts and balloons and fun--She was in Rocky, but still had the presents to unwrap, which we left when we were there recently. It sounds as though she had a great day--as it always should be--each year needs to always be celebrated...but there are memories of birthdays with her that were fun, exhausting, and sometimes a struggle...
...OK..since you asked nicely, I'll tell you..
When she was being born, it started out on the 14th of July, but her Dad's birthday was on the 15th! He really wanted to have her born on his birthday, but hey! What could I do about it, I mean when the baby wants to be born - well then, it just happens...but the day dragged on, and the night rolled on into late, exhausting hours. It suddenly became close to midnight, and holding his breath, John looked at his watch more than he looked at me, or what I was going through--suddenly the magical hour of midnight appeared and he shouted out in excitement: "OK, Jan--let her rip! It's the 15th!" Not the best words he could have used, and at that stage, if I could have reached him, I really would have hit him--but a few hours later she was born, and our first-born baby was finally here! It was a great celebration! ( I have to insert at this stage, that as he held her for the first time, he went pale, and almost fainted--the nurses grabbed him and her, and rescued the moment! I'll never forget it!)
As both John and Bronney shared the same birthday there was always noise, excitement and (for me, a lot of work!) There was once just one cake, and then eventually 2 cakes - one for Bron and her little parties, and one for John and family and friends--eventually we worked out a system, and still managed to celebrate each birthday somewhat separately when it involved family and friends. But just for us, it was a great morning of presents and laughter and balloons. It was fun that they shared the same day, and we always tried to celebrate the specialness of it all.
As Bron got older, she loved having birthday parties, and I always tried to theme the parties to whatever her current fad of toy or happiness was. We had Strawberry Shortcake parties, Cabbage Patch kids parties, etc, and associated games for all the kids. I always tried to provide the same themed party prizes, and each guest went home with their own party present along the same lines. However, I still at that stage did not understand the party bag. The little bag of lollies and things you hand to each child as they leave the party. During Bron's parties, I had a large bowl of lollies for the kids to help themselves, and as I stated I provided a present for each party guest. But without the bag of lollies at the end- it was a flop of a party according to them...took me a while to realise what I was doing wrong, err right, but wrong--you know?!
But the party games were a great challenge--not to create, or even have happen, but to control Bron from trying to win each prize! She always was (and still is!) very competitive - (even she would admit it), at games, and especially games with prizes--she wanted them all! Not the point of the party games really though, was it!!
So I would distract her, or trip her, or do anything to let the others win, until at one party she got angry and wanted the prize. I had to interfere, and make up a reason why the other 'winner' should have the prize, and pulled Bron aside and told her to stop competing--well--that was like adding fuel to the fire--she went crazy! Eventually I just gave up and gave the other prizes to the kids who hadn't won yet--for best smile--best runner, anything--and just kept Bron away from the prizes.
After that particular party, I had to pull her aside and tell her what a disappointment her attitude had been, and promised her that because of it, she couldn't have a party the following year. It killed me, but I kept my word, and I think it made her think about it all..because the year after that she understood and was happy to share the prizes--just hated not being the winner!!
Now I haven't ever tried to claim that I am a great cake maker--actually I suck at it. I can bake them--sure--but make them pretty and successful? For kids? Not really..I remember one cake at one of Bron's parties--I was baking it as I decorated the room for her party--always a lot of work to decorate and make it just party great! Anyway-- eventually the two layers of cake had baked and I had them out to cool--still had to decorate them and add final touches to the party. Well- the clock ticked on, and the party environment looked great, but the cake refused to cool fast enough, so decided to just go forward anyway, I made the butter frosting, added the pink food colour and started to frost the layers. It seemed simple enough, but when I tried to put the two layers together, the top one kept sliding off, and settling on a slant. Try as I did, it just wouldn't cooperate--(I think it was possessed by the horrible anti-party thug- horrible things that they are.They creep in and try to destroy anything nice that is attempted, humphing under their thuggish breath, "Humph!" they rumble out, and even slobber and grab at dirt if they can reach it - horrible things!) So, desperate, I found some toothpicks and put them ever slightly in the bottom layer of cake and settled the top layer onto them. Holding my breath, I waited.....the top layer stayed in place! I finished decorating the cake with the relevant figurines and candles for the party theme, and placed the cake carefully in our cold room. Whew--it was a relief to have that over, just as the first guest arrived!
Well the party rolled on, and it was eventually cake and photo time, I 'proudly' brought the cake out, which had so far been cooperating, but couldn't figure out how to remove the toothpicks from the cake. So placing the cake in front of Bron for the photos and candle lighting, we eventually cut into it, and served it out.....with my warning: "Kids! Eat around the wood--it is in there somewhere!" My warning didn't scare them, and they ate happily, if not messily--probably occupied in looking for the wood! I think they thought it was another party game!
As Bron got older, and moved out into her own home, as a single young woman on the go, birthdays still were a big thing! A big part of the celebration was always the balloons and the pre-set-up! We, as a family, always hung the relevant amount of balloons to the persons age--by this time Bron was 20 something. I was stuck at work in a late meeting, and Bron was away or at work, so it was up to Chris to do the decorating. We must have had a key to her house, as he let himself in, set down our presents, and started blowing up the balloons. He had the balloons hanging from her lounge room ceiling and around, along with the streamers. I came over after my work finished, just in time to see him complete it all! It looked great!! We went home with big smiles on our faces knowing that Bron would get the big surprise when she got home.
As I said, Birthdays are a big thing in our family!!