My mom and dad got married on September 17, 1955, and my brother George was born eleven months later on August 4, 1956. And the other six of us arrived one at a time over the next eight years: Jana on November 19, 1957; then me on December 19, 1958; Susan on April 9, 1960; Mike on September 17, 1961 (yes, child #5 came on anniversary #6); Sally on July 24, 1963 and finally Cathy on December 7, 1964.
Birthdays were pretty spread out, with only Cathy and me sharing a month.
Yes, we each had a special day to celebrate. And today is mine, December 19, 2014. I am 56 today.
But the name of this blog is “The Birthday Season.” And because my birthday is so close to Christmas, I celebrate a birthday season and not just a day. Let me tell you why.
My birthday and Christmas are intertwined.
I was always told that my real due date was closer to Christmas than the 19th, but Mom and Dad wanted me home from the hospital in time for Christmas Eve at Grandpa and Grandma Piskac’s house, so I was induced. (Amazingly enough, new mothers and their babies used to stay in the hospital for several days, even a week or more. Now they send them home practically the hour after birth!)
And so the very first celebration of my birth was Christmas Eve, 1958. And as I look back, I think that is very special. I have a birthday celebrated over the course of days from the 19th of December to the 24th.
My mom and dad used to create their own Christmas cards every year. My dad was a printer after all. It’s not so unusual in this day and age to do that with electronic files and digital printing, but back in the days of letterpresses and newspapers cuts, it was quite a process. I have copies of most of those cards.
The only one I am missing (and it makes me very sad) is the one from 1964 when Cathy would make her first appearance. I am working on finding one.
I always loved these cards when I was older. I inherited the boxes of old pictures and cards and report cards and communion certificates. There are copies of pictures of us with good face shots. Some of the copies are missing the heads as they were used as the pictures that Daddy would use to make the printing plates or cuts.
Years later when Jana and I became roommates we decided to revive the tradition. We have a whole series of similar cards with our heads cut into Christmas scenes along with our two dogs.
But let me get back to my birthday (she said selfishly).
Today is my birthday, the beginning of my birthday season.
In 2001, my idea of a birthday season was reinforced when I spent the Friday night of my birthday week with a new person. Steve.
My birthday was on Wednesday that year, but who goes out for a birthday date on a Wednesday? Steve had made plans to take me to a wonderful, expensive, dress-up kind of restaurant on Friday to celebrate my birthday. We went to the Flatiron, a dark, romantic place, with Christmas lights twinkling inside and out. We had wine. We had duck. It was just divine.
And then he took me to his house to give me a birthday present. It was a Christmas CD of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
“I remember that you said ‘O Holy Night’ is your favorite carol and it’s on this CD,” he said.
“I love that song! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to get home to listen,” I replied.
I was sitting on his sofa, marveling that someone like Steve would give me a birthday present of a CD with my favorite Christmas carol. It’s good to have a birthday season!
And the next moment he was on his knee.
“Actually, I got you something else to go with it. It comes with a question.”
And then that ring with a bright blue piece of the sky was on my finger.
“I was wondering if you would marry me?” was the question.
“Pinch me. Real hard.” I replied “And then ask me again.”
He did both. And I said yes.
That was thirteen years ago, and tonight we are going back to the Flatiron to celebrate my birthday in the midst of my birthday season.
I look back at all those old Christmas cards and marvel that the little girl whose picture showed up in the 1958 card, who made her entrance before Christmas so she could celebrate as part of a family, is the same woman with the piece of sky on her finger, in love with a saint who shares her life every day. Somehow all those years later he has kept up my birthday season and made it even that much more special and sparkly.
And all I can say is, “Happy birthday to me.” And it is. And I am, happy, that is.
And I’m ready to celebrate.
‘Tis the season.