By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings
My sister has a friend who grew up one of ten and when it came time for a birthday celebration, her mother simply opened the back door and yelled, “CAKE!” and friends and neighbors would hurry over, sing “Happy Birthday” and have a simple celebration.
After the festivities, kids went back out to play and the party was over.
Today I muse joyfully on yelling “CAKE” and the simplicity of efforts made by parents of large broods who, by virtue of time, finances, and energy, simply could not offer much more than simple cake and easy celebrations.
In a world where children’s birthday parties can cost more than my car, I asked friends from large families what they did for their birthdays. My friend, Peter, shared that his mom would make their favorite meal. And coming from an Irish home of meat and potatoes, his go to was spaghetti. How exotic.
Another friend, Jen, remembers the candy they’d get from any sibling’s birthday. And as the youngest of 14, there would be candy left over – the birthday child had his/her first choice the rest would get the leftovers. Even after decades, that sugar still resonates.
In my own house, we had a poster put up on the refrigerator and our birthday treats involved Hostess and Drakes cakes. I am still partial to Yodels and Ring Dings and Suzy Qs. We had a candle put in – never our exact age as no one could ever find the birthday candles – on occasion matches would suffice. And we’d sing and have a Yodel or two and then move on. Simple. Done. Happy Birthday.
I like keeping birthdays simple, it’s a lovely recognition of life and how lucky I am to be still in the game. This year marks my 55th on this planet, fabulous double digits reflecting a speed limit and associated with my home girl, Mother Mary. I like 55. I also am astonished at how fast it’s all going – my own Dad died at 55; what a quick trip, a short journey.
So, amigos, muse joyfully on your own birth, your own celebrations. And when all else fails, open the door, yell, “CAKE!” and see who shows.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.