My mother was a party-throwing genius.  Fondue, home-fried tortilla chips, dry ice in the punch, a carousel cake that actually turned . . . she was brilliant.   And not only did she have the planning perfected and not only did everything look and taste and sound stunning . . . SHE was stunning.  She knew how to have a good time, and she knew how to ensure everybody around her did, as well.  She paved her life with smiles.

Cue in the lummox of the family.  Yes, that would be me.  The sweet little baby lummox.  I am socially awkward, I become overwhelmed at the thought of making pancakes and my toes look funky.  Okay, so the toes have nothing to do with the party . . . or at least they shouldn't.  Just take my word on that and consider it a lesson learned.

Not only do I lack the "party gene" entirely - but I also lack the advantage of first-hand amazing party experiences.  By the time I came along, I think my mother realized just how much work was involved and she didn't have the health, money or energy to continue.  So when my own little family unit started to form, I pondered birthday parties, felt intimidated, and came to the logical conclusion that birthday parties are highly overrated.  What child needs a big party EVERY year?  Why that's just overkill!  Throw in some cake and call it a day, I figured.

How young and naive I was!  HA!  Again, I say "HA!"  I was clueless about the power of vicarious living.  I never had a birthday with a theme and I wanted one, dammit!  I wasn't going to throw away my second, third, twelfth and sixteenth chances!  Over the years, we've celebrated with pirates, safari animals, luaus, trains, firefighters, skating, swimming, dogs, cats, farms, zoos, butterflies, bugs, soldiers,  cowboys, Transformers. . .  you name it.  And, yes, the good ole "cake with the family" birthday celebration does happen - quite often, in fact.  At my most "extravagant" I am still all about making things as simple and easy as possible.  But even those have a lovely little theme with coordinated colours, favourite foods and the traditional abundance of embarrassing baby pictures flashing across the computer screen for all the living room to see.

Our newest addition to the family provides another opportunity for birthday fun!  And so this past weekend, I threw myself into doing what I could to make a nice day for me her.  Reason #6498 why I ADORE having older kids - SHE did most of the planning!  I just had to go along with her ideas, and that was perfectly fine by me!  You see she, too, was the youngest child in a family with very limited means and an ailing mother without much energy.  So she never really had the chance to choose a theme and run with it.  Until this year.  And run she did!  Ran, skipped, flipped, and swung from the rafters.  "Go Bananas" is a gymnastics term and the theme she chose, and boy did we ever go bananas!

We had fabulous food (better than Thanksgiving, truly) and friends and family and crafts and music and monkeys and goody bags.  I wouldn't call it "going overboard" (there were, for example, no live animals brought in . . . unless you count the boy who lives up the road.  But he was a sweet, docile little pup.  He can't help it if he's a boy)  but we definitely got into the spirit of things.

And it made the birthday girl cry.  She cried.  She was just that happy.  So the "throw everything into this party to take away the sting of not having her mother here" plan was a success.

Wait . . . I lie.  My sister WAS here.  Surely she was.  And maybe even my own mother, as well.  I bet they were both scandalized at the condition of the kitchen floor.  (I never did get around to giving it a good wash.  Nor a bad one.  Wait . . . wash?)  And the asymmetrical streamers probably made them itch.  My mother would have been raising an eyebrow at the lack of fancy display and home-made foods.  While I did my best at wrapping presents, I braced myself for a good smack in the back of my head from my sister - who had mastered the art.  I hope they were able to get past all of that and relish the smoked salmon, curly ribbon, house-wide decorations that tied in with the theme and the stunning birthday girl with the big grin.  Because when it comes down to it - that's all the stunning I need.

Happy Birthday, Sprout.


  1. I'm so glad things went well! Your fruit salad is making me huuungry!

  2. I'm crying, and I'm so happy she's got you. And yes, I think your mom and sis were there. They wouldn't have missed it!

  3. You really need to stop making me cry. ;) Give the birthday girl a big hug from me... and one for yourself too!