Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Birthday Box

When my son was about 3, and my mom first moved to town, they had an intense discussion about birthday planning.  I'm not even sure who the proposed party was for, but they were making a list of what they would need for the next day.

My son:  Streamers!
My mom:  OK.  What else?
My son:  Balloons!  And confetti!
My mom:  That sounds good.
My son:  And could it be in the morning?
My mom:  Well, I'm not sure...
My son:  Nobody wants to wait for their party.  You want to wake up and have it first thing!  Don't you want that on your birthday?
My mom:  Now that you mention it, I would like that.  I would like that very much.  Let's do it!

So they did.  They decorated our little family room, the two of them.  There were balloons. And confetti.  They strung a "Happy Birthday" banner across the window, and draped streamers along the guinea pigs' cage.   The doors to the room were closed, and when the birthday person woke up, my son excitedly led the celebrant in there and everyone screamed "Happy Birthday" really loud, put music on** and danced around in their pajamas.  Best of all, there was ice cream and cake, with a candle in it, for breakfast*.   It was brilliant. 

Ever since then, at our house, you get that party for your birthday.
First thing.

Celebrating his 5th birthday with his Aunt.  PJ's?  Check!
All you need to make the party is in the Birthday box.   

Most items have been in there for years.  A Happy Birthday banner made of colored foil letters, now with wads of leftover tape stuck the the H and the Y.   A roll of streamers***.  Candles of all shapes and sizes.   Packs of confetti.  A plastic Winnie-the-Pooh holding a bunch of balloons.    Wooden numbers for the cake****, to show how old you are.  

And silver rings for decorating the room.   Mom made these by hand one year, out of a roll of  ribbon she got on sale at the Hallmark store in her mall.  She painstakingly cut the ribbon into equal sized pieces, then taped them into interlocking rings, like kids do for projects at preschool with construction paper.   She made yards of these dazzling silver chains, and the guinea pigs were upgraded from crepe paper to these sparkling ornaments.  

My son turned 15 yesterday.  The night before, I went into the garage, and got out the Birthday box.   The silver rings cascaded onto the floor, and I burst into tears.  There were the streamers.  The confetti.  The candles.  The worn out banner waiting to be taped up to the window one more time.  Everything I needed to make the party.

Except Mom.

* Some years, there was bacon and eggs too, or cheese sandwiches cut into heart shapes, or buttered toast.   It is the most important meal of the day, after all.
** Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday!
*** These do double duty as a source of confetti.  Mom hated paying for confetti, unless it was special occasion confetti, so she'd just cut up the crepe paper streamers into little pieces for birthdays.   Special occasion confetti is mini footballs for Super Bowl, or silver snowflakes for Christmas.  That she'd splurge on, but only if it was on sale.   She also used it very sparingly, so we have plenty in the Box.
*** Or the fruit snacks, the cupcakes, the Krispy Kremes...whatever your birthday treat of choice is.  My son was definitely missing his grandma, too. His choice this year was Barnaby Day Cookies, with vanilla ice cream.  

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