Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Birthday Memories Are Sometimes Blurry

Blowing out 40 candles with my 5 year old
Most birthdays are a blur. Don't you agree?  I mean really, it starts right from birth. A blur, am I right?  You might have access to a really detailed birth certificate that indicates who else was present on your glorious day, but you certainly don't remember a thing about your birth day. Depending on your life's circumstances maybe only your mother remembers your birth. My father was overseas at the time of my birth, so it was just my Mom and I think my father's Aunt Mag. Of course, my two older sisters were at home waiting for me, but even at ages 5 1/2 and 2 1/2, I hardly think they remember the day of my birth with any clarity.

I started thinking about this phenomenon after my TIME Magazine arrived last Friday. The cover story is Why Mom Liked You Best - The Science of Favoritism by Jeffrey Kluger.  It is a good read, you will probably recognize yourself somewhere in it. I suspect all parents have a favorite. Sometimes it is just a little look, the color of the little one's hair, the shape of their just happens. And that's life.

What occurred to me though is that there are very few actual celebrations of my birthday that I recall. Maybe this has to do with being the third of four children; I was the youngest girl of three, with a younger brother to boot. Maybe it has to do with my parents not being able to afford memorable birthday parties. I survived.  That's what counts right?  Point of fact: I actually remember eight celebrations. I can't locate a photo for each, but I thought you might get a kick out of the photos I did locate.

My oldest sister, Joann, with me. I am in her babydoll stroller. This is the earliest photo of me. Circa 1950

Guessing this is my 2nd Birthday 1951.
5th Birthday celebrated as a guest on The Johnny Downs Show
9th Birthday celebrated with Joann Eagen, Agnes Eagen, Michael Eagen, Nancy Tschiderer, Gloria Gurney, Marlene Sieger, Lucille Iavelli, et al. Can you find me?
15th Birthday Celebration Back Row L-R: Mary Brockley, Adele Shaules, Cathy Callagy, Judy Eagen. Front Row L-R: Mary Dell Miller, Judy Devlin, Gale Huguenard, Maribeth Lewer and Michelle Walsh
A very blurry 40th Birthday. L-R Judy Helfand, Debbie Fischbein, Dennis Helfand, unknown, and Dan Fischbein
54th Birthday Celebration: Enjoying a gift from "The Girls".

I would like to add that the following birthdays will always stay with me:

  • When I turned four my family had just returned from living on Fort Campbell, KY. I received a boy baby doll for my birthday. I named him Michael. I think I chose that name because I had just spent some time with my Uncle Mike and Cousin Mike. I loved that doll. I had him for so long my Mom would take him to the Doll Hospital (yes, there is/was such a thing) to get a whole new body!
  • When I turned 34 my husband, Dennis, asked me what was on my Birthday Wish List. I told him I needed a wallet. He asked me to tell him what brand. Jokingly, five months pregnant with our second baby, I said "Gucci!"  So off he went to Nordstrom's.  He picked out a beautiful wallet, but found himself speechless when the saleslady said: "That will be $298!"  I used that wallet until 2004! 
  • When I turned 40 we were living in New Hampshire and Dennis gave me a surprise party. It was a great party with a cockeyed photographer, as you can see from the photos above. All of my friends pitched in and bought me a $300 gift certificate to The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. Everybody knows the Balsams - it is "First in the Nation" location to report its results of the Presidential election. We used the Gift Certificate to celebrate Dennis' 50th Birthday!
  • When I turned 50 my friends (The Girls) at Mercury decorated my office. It was so much fun. I left the decorations up for six months. Every time the company President would stop by my office to ask about a project he would step back and say: "Is today your birthday?"
Well, for all my talk about blurry memories, I managed to ramble on for quite a while. Today is my birthday. Dennis and I are going out for dinner and I am going to have someone take a photo. I hope it won't be blurry.

Tell me, what is your favorite birthday celebration memory?
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Elizabeth said...

When I turned 16, my parents tried to throw me a surprise party. Fairly typical of their planning, we were running late and I arrived at the party location not really "done up." Everyone was there when I walked in, hair in rollers, glasses on, no make-up. Ugh! But one of the guests was my big crush, who had a lovely necklace for me as a gift. We started dating about a week later. We're married now, celebrating 12 years next July.

Judy Helfand said...

Yours is the best story I read today. What great memories. I hope you have some wonderful photos.

Thanks for stopping by today.


Rob said...

Hey Judy,

The birthday I clearly remember was when I turned 21. I had just been notified that I was being activated to serve in some capacity overseas (for Dessert Storm). My mother threw a surprise party. In order to get me out of the house she had an uncle take me to play pool at a local tavern. The uncle (a few months older than me) and I were supposed to play a few games of pool and then head back home. I should probably mention that I have some Irish blood :) My uncle tried in vain to pry me away from that place. He ended up resigning to the idea and getting inebriated with me. About six hours later we stumbled our way into the front door to a very weak, "Surprise!" as many of the guests had already left :) He got more than one tongue lashing (poor guy) but was too drunk to care much.
As a side note, neither of us has touched a drop of alcohol for over fifteen years.

Judy Helfand said...

Thanks for stopping by. Great story. I never like being responsible for the person who is going to be surprised. It is a big responsibility. It never goes quite right.

Hope you'll drop by here again.

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