Birthdays: family, together, love

I love July. A lot. It's my birthday month. I love my birthday and making a big deal about it.

Partially, I think that stems from the fact that I have a summer birthday so I never got the fun school celebrations. No taking cupcakes or cookies in on my big day. Nope, I was home running around outside, or, as I got older, babysitting or working.

Family birthday celebrations made my summer birthday special. www.lifeinrandombits.com

I was lucky, though, because I lived with family very close. So I still had big birthday celebrations. Growing up, everyone got to choose whether they wanted birthday breakfast at Grandma's house on Sunday morning, or birthday dinner at her house on Monday night. For years, I chose dinner and my favorite meal, chicken and dumplings. When I got to be a teenager and realized what a hellacious request that was of my grandmother in her unairconditioned house during the hot, humid Ohio summer, I started changing my dinner request to cold cuts and a sandwich bar.

One thing I never stopped requesting: angel food cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've had that combination to celebrate every birthday for as long as I can remember. Grandma Helen would bake the angel food cake and then invert it on an old glass Coke bottle to let it cool. I dearly miss scooping the angel food crumbs out of the pan after she had taken the cake out. The gooey bit of cake left behind was the best part of the whole thing.

I miss those family birthday parties. They were ordinary and comfortable, but special all the same. We all gathered for Sunday breakfast and Monday night dinner every week. Six in my family, four in my aunt's (on the other side of Grandma's house- we were all in a row!), three or four from the other aunt in town. At other times, there would be other family visiting or living in town for different periods of time.

It was routine to all be together a couple times a week. Sometimes we barely stopped our games outside to scarf down dinner. Sometimes it was a rush to make it on time from work or practice. But the family was always there. Everyone would come together to celebrate the birthday person and that's what made it so special. It wasn't cupcakes with friends and a disruption of the school routine. It was the old familiar: family, together, love.

What are some of your best family birthday memories?
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