Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's MY day

That's what birthdays were as a kid.  It was your day. My family would go over to grandma and grandpa's house on the weekend before or after our birthday.  The dinner menu was your choice, grandma cooked.  Mine was always scalloped potatoes (i think they may have been closer to potatoes au gratin really, but we always called them scalloped). I never cared what went with the potatoes.  It was usually pork tenderloin or some kind of pork or beef, salad and bread.  It was the potatoes that made it.  I could eat myself sick on grandma's potatoes. They were never the same twice as she never measured anything.  The taste and the pan was always the same though. She once made a batch while I was visiting.  We put the leftovers in an old cool whip container, frozen them solid and I carried them on the plane home.  I was more devastated that you can imagine when I opened the container, salivating with expectation, only to find I've gotten the wrong container and instead had the chicken noodle soup grandma also had in the freezer.
courtesy of apinchofflavor.com.  Grandma's didn't have meat in them.  My favorite part was on the top and at the edge where the cheese bubbles and got a crispy skin on it.  My sister always liked the softer slightly soupy stuff in the middle. I can make them, but it's never the same as when grandma did.  Mom's are within a hair of grandma's and rising though.
Ice cream cake was the dessert of choice. I miss Dairy Queen ice cream cakes.  The trick is to take them out to soften just slightly before eating.  I used to love the icy fudge and cookie crumble layer.  I think most people fall into one of three categories : cake person, icing person, or not either.  I am definitely a frosting person, and that holds for ice cream cakes. I liked how the white frosting blended in with the vanilla ice cream.   As we had monthly sequential birthdays in my family from February to July, we starting splitting cakes.  We would have one for grandma's birthday in February and eat half.  The other half went back into the freezer until my birthday in March.  This was only when my sister and I were teenagers. I'm sure as kids we would have been put of by half a cake with someone else's name on it.
courtesy of bzzagent.com.  I know I have eaten slices that look exactly like this, yellow rose and all.
I can't say I remember many of the gifts I got. I can remember certain toys and gifts I received as a kid but the birthday ones blend in with Christmas. I don't have a very specific memory for most things and especially times when I was young.  I do remember a few birthdays though.  First on the list is when I was turning eleven or twelve, grade five or so.  I'd invited several friends over and mom prepared a taco bar.  I can picture who was there and gathering in the kitchen to make the tacos.  I might have crystallized this in my mind because there are a few photos of us making the tacos.  I can't accurately recall much else of the party other than two or three of my best friends sleeping over after the festivities. I can even remember some of the things we talked about. I can remember a couple of parties where the piñata was a stand out. I can remember smashing them in the garage, the dad holding the string that was run up and over part of the garage door frame.  Everyone used a dowel to beat the snot out of it until the candy poured out.  Taco bar,  piñatas. . . my trip to Guatemala and time in Spain is starting to make sense.
courtesy of texmextogo.com.  I swear we smashed one just like this little guy.
courtesy of dailymail.co.uk. Like this, but indoors or on the patio. I can also remember a year or two with pin the tail on the donkeys on the sliding class door. 

These days, as I look down the barrel at thirty, birthdays are different.  There are no toys, few gifts and only from the closest of close friends.  Money is more easily given from countries far away.  The games, if there are any, are usually drinking games.  Birthdays at work aren't like birthdays at school.  In junior high the cool thing was to get mylar balloons or flowers.  You could get them in person from a friend or if your mom sent them to you, the office would deliver them.  It would be a little scene and you got to carry them around all day. I can't remember the last time I received flowers or what the occasion was, it must have been a while ago. How times change.
courtesy of searchbeat.com.  After several days, the balloon would sink to my bedroom floor.  I'd carefully let the last of the air out, flatten it and tack it to my bedroom ceiling.  I must have had twenty or more up there at one point.

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