Sharing Birthdays

birthday candles

Sharing Birthdays
| published July 6, 2014 |

By Jeanne Piraino Sigler
Thursday Review contributor

I’m celebrating my birthday next month with my husband, my church family, and a few close friends. It’s my birthday. Mine and nobody else’s, and I don’t need to share it with a soul, unlike my first 22.

My family has always been a typically close Italian clan. There are many fond memories associated with that fact. There is a downside, however, and that’s when it comes to birthdays.

My Cousin Andrea’s birthday is three days after mine. Although we are a couple of years apart, we always celebrated together. Now that may seem like no big deal, but for me it was a tough slice of buttercream frosted cake to swallow.

I suppose the logic in all of this for our parents was that gathering all of the relatives together was always a monumental task. You simply could not have a party without inviting every living relative within a hundred-mile radius, even if we kids couldn’t remember, or even pronounce, some of their names.

Then there was the expense of the M&M’s, Wise Potato Chips, and Sunny’s Orangeade. The hoopla was just not worth doing two weekends in a row. So, the well-wishers rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” and the sheet cake always bore two names.

Perhaps if I’d had a “school season” birthday, it would have been a bit easier. You see, in New York the new school term always began the Monday after Labor Day. Unlike my schoolmates who got parties and cupcakes in the classroom in the Elementary years, and my girlfriends who wore fancy bubble gum corsages in Junior High, I’d do without.

Actually, I would have been content with a swimming party and have a few of the neighborhood kids over. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a pool. Besides, that would have interfered with the family coming over or all of us piling in at my Nana’s house in Brooklyn.

It wasn’t all that awful, really. My parents always made sure I was treated special. If my actual birthday fell on a weekday, my mother usually baked a small cake for just the immediate family and we’d have a mini-celebration prior to the big bash. I have much to be grateful for and I shall always remember that.

It’s been a good while since Andrea and I celebrated together. We generally call or send cards, and lately, cyber-greetings. Every so often, I miss those summer soirees, odd as that may sound. Many of the older relatives are gone now. Only memories remain.

Maybe next year, before too many more years go past, Andrea and I will put our names on a cake together and gather what relatives we can for an old-fashioned family party. Then we’ll share with the next generation about how we used to do this every second weekend in August for more than two decades, until I moved away.

Now that I reflect back on it, it wasn’t so bad after all. Those gatherings were actually kind of fun. And perhaps if I’d never moved, the tradition would have carried on. We’ll never know.

Happy Birthday to me. Oh, and to Andrea, too, of course. How could I possibly forget?

Related Thursday Review articles:

Birthday Surprises; Jeanne Sigler; Thursday Review; February 20, 2014.

July is Ice Cream Month; Krista Tani; Thurday Review; July 1, 2014.