It's my birthday week! Or rather Month! I celebrate all month because I don’t always get a chance to celebrate with friends and family on my birthday. I love birthdays, especially mine. Mom made my birthdays special no matter where we were or who we were with. In the early years, I don’t remember much except for the cakes that Nana made me. She always put so much love into each cake to make it special. As early as I can remember up until I was maybe 16, tradition dictated a party that included a game called Pass the Parcel. Some lucky person who came to my party left with a gift.
Change is coming
After my 16th birthday, it became more about trips than parties. I love trips! They also changed to having low-key dinners. But I do love the fuss they make at the restaurant. I found out though not everyone loves the fuss, especially Mom. This year as I celebrate my 26th birthday as they say another trip around the sun, I am having dinner with my family. At this writing, I haven’t picked the exact place but I will end with the picture in next week's blog so you can see how I celebrated. It is either Mexican or Italian.
It wasn’t until I got older that my mom told me about my early birthdays. I was so painfully shy. You would never know that now. Mom and Dad always bought me something useful, something that would last. Not everything made it, my bike was donated to another family, the swing set and sandbox went to toy heaven but my bookcase and toy box is in my room. Like me, they grew up both in function and color. No longer the storage of my toys and books but became storage for blankets and Nik Knacks. My books became audiobooks and somehow didn’t look right on a bookshelf.
So many parties
For my first Bday, I am told it was a blowout. More for the adults than the child. That’s okay because I don’t remember it. My second birthday was family in t-shirts lovingly made by Mom which said “I survived Allison’s second birthday and boy was it fun”. I celebrated my golden birthday, I turned 8 on the 8th, at Yankee Stadium. I remember a tradition that Mom started, every year she would get a tablecloth and have everyone sign it and leave me messages. Somewhere along the way, the tradition stopped but I look forward to someday reading all those wonderful messages. I wonder though if they have become a smudged mess. Like many, my early birthdays revolved around what I watched on TV or enjoyed at the time, Sesame Street, Blues Clues, smiley face, and Strawberry Shortcake.
I remember one birthday that I celebrated at my aunt's house, We made stepping stones and ice cream. I still have the stepping stone. It has a Blues Clues paw print made out of gems as one of the flower petals. The idea was to have everyone help decorate the stepping stone. If I remember correctly there were two and Nana has the other one. This was the same year they moved to Florida. I also had a Blues Clues party at my house when I was around four. We searched for clues and sat in the thinking chair and solved the mystery of who was coming to my party. It was Nana.
I am loved
I had pool parties and trip parties, ice cream parties, and Blues Clues parties. One thing that was always present was those that loved me. Some of my birthdays were not on my birthday or had been postponed, hence why I celebrate a birthday month, but they were always celebrated. Many of you know my birthday was supposed to be in July. I had other plans and wanted it in May like half of my family. I don’t about your family but in mine, we have 8 May birthdays but add in my friends and it makes 10. That's a lot of May babies. So I think the joke should be what do May flowers bring…babies of course.
As I got older so did the parties from pool parties, dress-up relay parties, makeovers, sleepovers, and my favorite a trip to the Mall of America. When I turned ten Mom had everyone who came to the party paint their handprint. Everyone slapped their hand on the canvas leaving a very abstract but great memory. For my sixteenth birthday, all my friends were having these elaborate sweet sixteen parties with rented halls, ball gowns, and limos. Like it was the prom but wasn’t. The drama with who to invite was ridiculous. Since my birthday was not only around Mother’s Day but also AP finals. This meant that finding the right day to celebrate was a chore. Mom suggested I think of someplace I would like to go and make it special in that way.
Mall of America
I thought long and hard and I love shopping. We had always discussed shopping malls. Mom grew up where at one time the King of Prussia Mall was the largest in the US. The Palisades Mall near my home was number 12. Now, the Mall of America is still number one, King of Prussia number 3 and the Pallisades is Number 13. Malls are dropping like flies. I was intrigued and wanted to go to the largest mall at the time, The Mall of America in Minnesota. This was no easy trip to plan especially since we were driving. Since I was also in summer camp as part of my extended school year the trip was planned for late July. Our trip began. Me and my best friends at the time and Dad. Our first stop was in Chicago! I would go back to the windy city anytime. It was so very cool and accessible. We of course stayed on the Miracle Mile, which is full of shopping. Daddy thought it was funny to pass the time by noting, Banana Republic does not sell bananas and you can’t buy an apple at the Apple store. This would become our mantra for the trip.
Shop til you drop
Once we got to the Mall of America, I think Dad had enough estrogen and decided to go to a ball game while we shopped until we dropped. The Mall didn't disappoint. Four floors of shopping which was great since we had four days, one floor a day! Our hotel had an IHop attached to it. Every night we would go to the IHOP after the mall closed in our pajamas. It was so much fun. On our way home we stopped at the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame. The Rolling Stones were being inducted that year and there were these big lips on the wall. I highly recommend going. I will say though Cleveland closes up its sidewalks after dark and it was a challenge finding someplace to eat. We did manage to find out that the house from A Christmas Story was in the area. I really haven’t watched the whole movie but my friends had and we went to see it. It was not open to the public when we went. I highly suggest if you are going to spend a lot of money on a party consider a trip instead.
Another favorite of mine was the year I got to see Frozen on Broadway. It was such a surprise. Mom and Dad wouldn’t tell me what we were doing, only that we were going to the city. This wouldn’t work for most people but since I can’t see I had no idea where we were until we saw some people in front of a theater near where we ate. We went up to talk to them and Dad asked them what play they were in, as if he didn’t know. They all said Frozen. I streaked with excitement. I couldn’t believe I was going to see Frozen. It was everything I thought it would be. Our seats were located in the very back of the theater which isn’t usually good for me but once the lights went down I could see all the sparkle and pizzazz of the show. I knew the songs and sang them at the top of my lungs, very off key I might add. But no one seemed to care. I knew these songs and the story. The only thing that threw me was the scene in the hot tub outside of the trader shack. It was hilarious.
I consider myself one lucky girl to have been able to have such wonderful memories and experiences. I could not imagine what things could have been like if Mom and Dad had listened to those doctors that said I would never walk, talk or be more than a baby. I think everyone needs to celebrate their birthday as the milestone that it is. The day they had life breathed into them. Additionally, I think it is important to go back through your memories and pictures to make you realize all the things you forgot. It wasn’t about the presents, it was about the people and how special I was made to feel. For me, it continues to be a day to celebrate and feel extra special.
Video: small chocolate birthday cake with colorful flashing Happy Birthday sign on top
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see how I continue the party to celebrate my amazing mom and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.