Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday: Birthdays

Linda has challenged us again this week with another interesting topic.
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 Quilmes, 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.
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 cumpleaƱos!” 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 US for a year in time for fall classes in 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 Argentina. And my favorite birthday cake--the Never Fail Chocolate Cake with Seven Minute White Icing.

We played games, but mostly talked. I wanted to hear about their secondary school experience so far. All these schools were in Quilmes, 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 US. 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.

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.


Mocha with Linda said...

I just loved this. That picture with your buggy and your dad's writing is absolutely priceless.

And what a fun memory of your party. It's fun as a mom to look back and see the special things our own moms did, isn't it?!

Thanks for participating!

Joyce said...

The buggy is too sweet!

We all seem to recognize a mother's efforts to make us feel special...that more than any gift or party. I hope my children feel the same when they think back to their own birthdays and childhood.

I don't think I've been here before...nice to 'meet' you.

Melli said...

What a wonderful memory! Your mother DID make it a very special day - for you to remember allllll these years later!

Thena said...

Bologna salad, never heard of it. I love fried bologna sandwiches.

skoots1mom said...

you get my vote for BEST awesome!!!

Barbara H. said...

I love the picture with your cake and the buggy your dad made himself, and his own handwriting on the back of the picture.

And that party sounds so sweet.

Kim said...

Loved this story! What a special memory...of the outfit, the friends, mother's extra touches...thanks for sharing!

bp said...

That's such a nice birthday memory. I like the picture and that you included the writing on the back!

Cathy said...

Rita, I love your birthday memories and the cute picture of your with your cake and buggy. I also loved the story of "tag" you wrote in you comment on my post. Thank you for sharing all this. And I think your post is very well written.

SmallTownRunner said...

What a cute photo of you! You make that same facial expression now, sometimes.

Nel said...

What a wonderful memory. I love the picture, and with your Dad's handwriting! The little buggy is precious, wouldn't that be something to have today. I love the memory of the party also, that was very sweet of your mom.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you will visit again, I am sure I will be back!

until next time... nel