Check out her answers and those of all who link up. And, of course, por supuesto, you must read mine, and comment too, por favor, pretty please!
What were birthdays like when you were growing up? Were they a big deal or understated? Did you have parties? Get to choose what or where the family ate for dinner? Are there any particular birthday traditions that you remember? Is there any birthday that stands out (good OR bad!), either due to the events surrounding it or due to the particular present(s) you received?My initial response was that birthdays, when my brothers and I were growing up in Argentina, were understated compared to nowadays. I don't remember having a party every year, though we always got a birthday cake. Can't remember having a choice of meal either, but that could have something to do with my poor memory. Old photos help to fill in those gaps.
(Dad's own handwriting. He made the doll buggy.)
Two birthday celebrations stand out, however, one in the US during our first furlough, and another in Argentina just before our second home leave. I recently wrote about the latter for my writing course, so I will simply copy it at the end. Oh, and if you would care to critique my writing, I would be very grateful.
About the first one. It was my 8th birthday and as a family we were due to visit one of the supporting churches in Canton, Ohio. I remember a table laden with gifts and much food, of course. It made a huge impression on me because I had never seen such a celebration. I have no recollection of any of the gifts, though, only the enormity of the event!
Thirteenth Birthday Party—May, 1957
“Why don’t you go put on your new clothes?” Mother said.
“What for?” I thought, but I dutifully went upstairs to my room and got out the pleated skirt and matching sweater set.
We had made several trips to
, by bus or train; walked the length of the long shopping district; searched in numerous fabric shops for my whimsical color choice--pink and gray. Quilmes
Mother would not give up until she had found the perfect plaid combination. How I loved that wool skirt, it was light and soft and the colors pleased me. I wore it for years, carefully applying imperceptible patches where it had become threadbare.
But why now, nothing special going on, why should I wear my best clothes?
Then the doorbell rang and my friends began to arrive.
“¡Feliz cumpleaños!” they said.
Mother knew how much I had missed my friends from elementary school years.
They had all started back to school in March, each following a different track.
Delia had decided to go the secretarial route and was attending Escuela Comercial.
Others preparing for university chose the Escuela Nacional. And I did not need to make up my mind yet because in a couple months we would be returning to the
for a year in time for fall classes in US . America
Mother was getting out the food she had prepared. I could smell the bologna salad sandwiches. My friends loved these. She also knew how to make homemade marshmallows because they were not available in
. And my favorite birthday cake--the Never Fail Chocolate Cake with Seven Minute White Icing. Argentina
We played games, but mostly talked. I wanted to hear about their secondary school experience so far. All these schools were in
, the city twenty minutes away. They traveled by public transport. Some had morning sessions, others afternoon, and there was a night school option. Thus the same school building could accommodate three different programs with totally separate administration and teachers. Obviously the structures were simpler and the systems less complex than in the Quilmes . I was soon to find that out for myself. This was also like a going away party. A year is a long time to be away from close friends. Already I missed them and knew I would never catch up with them in school. US
But for now, this was such a thoughtful surprise my Mother had prepared. We did not usually have birthday parties with our friends. Though the details have faded, Mother’s loving efforts to make that day special remain a sweet memory.