Sad isn’t it that birthday’s don’t have the charisma or oomph that they had as a child. I remember organza covered party dresses with tulle underskirts, in 'don’t-take-home-to-mother colours'. My Nana bought me one in lilac with a satin bow belt and shiny black patent shoes – the sort that would have been banned at prissy girls schools because they were enough to mirror my underwear! My mother hated the dress and fretted over the shoes. It was dry clean only and I remember getting an almighty stinger of a slap across the back of the legs for walking along the brick wall adjacent to our house and smearing it with creosote from a telegraph pole . . .minutes before we were to leave the house. My ‘other’ party dress was purchased by my Grandpa. Gorgeous black velvet with a red panel down the front and little shiny pearlescent buttons. Again, dry clean only . . .I think they were doing it to piss my mother off!
Then there was the party . . . always the predictable games. Pin the Tail, Musical Chairs et al. Food was specific. Fish paste sandwiches, egg and cress and occasionally something we actually liked such as spreadable cheese. There always seemed to be a pink blancmange in the shape of a rabbit. Little waxed dishes, brightly coloured to match the paper serviettes, filled with multi-coloured jelly and of course the cake. The taste of which was not important. It was all about colours, candles and cream! My two aunts professional in patisserie did me proud with crinolined ladies, and a variety of animal replicas.
The presents were inexpensive and either broke within minutes of opening or were as durable and predictable as the knitted jumpers that I used to get from my Grandma . . . she of the practical ilk (not the one who bought party dresses), reliably sent brown paper packages which squished disappointingly as only hand made garment wrapped in brown paper can. And all I wanted was a horse riding lesson and a pair of pink sparkly Cindarella Slippers was that too much to ask?
The birthday parties I hosted for my two when they were young were quite different. Both have a birthday within 11 days of each other so as children, they were combined affairs. Not a fan of screaming children, resolving “he took my lolly. . “ fights or dealing with petulant “my mother won’t let me eat chocolate” smart asses, I used to consider an ‘entertainer’ to keep the little mights out of trouble. We had a succession of Fairies, Magicians and face painters but the food was decidedly different. The kids chose . . . savoury dips and crudites or little party pies (a strictly Australian thing), tiny savoury mince pies, fully encrusted with pastry and dipped into lashings of tomato sauce. Little boys (baby frankfurts) . . equally doused in sauce. Sometimes served with matching sausage rolls. Fairy Bread – another Aussie stalwart of white bread triangles sprinkled with 100’s and 1000s. Fruit, lots of fruit. December being summer, there’s no shortage of strawbs, kiwi fruit, rockmelon, mango . . .all to be dipped inI warm chocolate sauce. Gifts were practical and since their birthday is so close to Christmas, it became the 'expensive' present event with Christmas being 'stocking only' and usually comprising practical items.
The games have changed as well. It’s tie your hands behind your back and try to eat a doughnut on a string, Marco Polo in the pool, or musical statues to some American R & B rapper and because of the size of the block, a treasure hunt was always popular and gave mum and friends a chance to have a quiet drink and a chat before the mele recommenced. Don’t worry, we knew where the marauding hoard was because the treasure was planted inside inflated balloons which had to be burst to grab the booty!
Today is my birthday. I have now had 51 of them - if you include the original rite of passage. Feels like 25. It’s not a particularly significant one and it’s a Tuesday so no cause for great celebration but some lovely people have wished me well and for that I thank you. It’s nice that even virtual friends somehow find these things out and wish me happy returns.
It's not that I didn't celebrate at all. I had a lovely lunch on Sat'dy with the InLaws and a beauuuuutiful breakfast at Regels Rendezvous with ClareBear, DrummerBoy and the Fringelet on Sunday morning. I also now have some sweet smelling melts for my oil burners and a voucher for $100 to spend at will . . . I suspect that when I get home DrummerBoy willl have bought my favourite Iris and something very ‘useful’ like oven gloves or wooden spoons or perhaps a permanent chain and shackle emanating from the kitchen sink. I’ve splashed out on prawns for a pasta to die for at dinner and TheBoss has just walked in with a tell-tale foil bottle bag and a very elegant tipple of Grant Burge. OK so I haven’t got a mauve organza party dress but I feel pretty spesh. Thank you everyone for making me feel so!