I don’t remember very many social events I attended as a kid, but I do remember one birthday party I went to when I was 6 or 7 years old. It was for a class mate one year older than I was. He was in second grade and I was in first, and lived at the upper end of the same country road I lived on. There were games to play and cake to eat. It was fun to see everyone competing in “pin the tail on the donkey”. I remember that game in particular because when his mother put the blind fold on me, she left a small opening on the bottom of the cloth that I could see out of. I didn’t want to be too close to the tail because it would seem like I cheated, so I pretended I was having a hard time, and put the tail somewhere in the middle of the donkey. The kids all laughed and I was a little embarrassed by the laughter, but I decided it was ok because it showed I hadn’t cheated! So I laughed a little too.
About 47 years later, while I was teaching school, I was reminded of that party. The father of one of my students that day had been at the party. We’d both aged but had a pleasant memory to share.
I only had two actual birthday parties in my life. One when I turned six years old. My mother used it as leverage when she wanted me to be a good boy. She’d say things like, “I’ll tell all the parents of the kids I invited to not come to your birthday party if you don’t behave.” It worked pretty well! Being young, I didn’t worry that we had an out-house instead of a regular bathroom. We only had a two car driveway and in January, the snowbanks were four feet high on our one lane dirt road, so parking would be a big problem if the parents stayed. I don’t know how much of a deterrent those obstacles were, but a few kids came anyway.
Skip a few years, and the next party was for my 18th birthday. My mother invited a couple of my friends to come to the new house my father had finished building the year before. It was a small party also, about four people came, but I still remember how it had made me happy to have anyone there to celebrate. The accommodations were modern that time! In the years later until now, I only had parties that included a few immediate family members. I’m kind of shy at celebrations that focus on me, so I guess that works out.
Now that 65 is here, I just feel excited to be here with my little family and one or two other relatives that wish me a happy birthday. My wife and daughter make each day and year special. I am truly lucky to still be alive and I can feel that it’s a privilege to participate in happy times with them by my side. AMEN.
©Rick Wyman 1/20/2018