When I was a kid, birthdays were simple. I remember my mom cooking whatever my favorite meal was at the time. I would open presents from my parents and a box of presents from my grandparents. My Grandma Rocher even started a tradition of sending the sibling one gift on the other grandchild’s birthday. My parents and in-laws keep up with this tradition today. The gifts are never big, but big enough to keep smiles on little faces.
Of course there were times that birthdays were pools parties or sleep overs. We even went on a few trips. There was the year we went to Boardwalk and Baseball in Haines City. When I was 12 my parents told me we were going to the Orlando Science Center. Instead they surprised us and took us to Epcot. I remember that year and trip very well because I walked around Epcot with a cast on my broken wrist.
The most memorable birthday I’ve had has got to be my 10th birthday. I got to spend the evening with my Nana Carpenter. She said turning 10 was an important thing and she wanted to take me out to eat. We went to Ryan’s steakhouse. I remember her complaining that I ordered a cheeseburger and fries instead of a steak. I remember her complimenting me on my manners throughout the meal. She gave me a pink wind-up alarm clock, telling me I’d never know when I might need it. That alarm clock served me well until I left for college.
After we ate, she asked me what I wanted to do. I’m not sure what she expected, but I told her I wanted to see the house she lived in when my dad was born. We drove around my hometown and she showed me the house and where my dad went to school. She talked about old times and I listened. I wish I could remember more of the stories from that day, but I remember just loving being with my Nana. Nana had 11 grandchildren so having alone time with her was rare and this night was special.
Over the years, Nana and I spent more time together. As she got older, I spent time taking her doctor’s appointments or just sitting with her in the nursing home. Once I even got to take her to my cousin’s wedding. Yet that birthday will always be my favorite memory of Nana.
Birthdays are pretty simple in our house now. With four kids and two parents, someone is always having a birthday I know that over the years the kids will store memories of their day. I hope that one day they will look back on birthdays fondly and know that they are loved.