The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

Happy Birthday To Me

OK, this story is more than just the name of a B grade horror flick from the 80’s. Every year when my birthday rolls around, I’m reminded of my Dad. You see, having a birthday two days after Christmas can suck. But Dad never let that happen. He always went out of his way to ensure that I “didn’t get screwed” by the biggest spending holiday of the year.

Dad would always make a big deal out of my birthday, unlike my Aunt Frances (his sister) who would just toss an extra pair of socks into the Christmas pile (two pair for Christmas, one for my birthday). One of the best gifts I received from family was from my sister, who actually asked what I wanted and then got it for me – it was a game called “Green Ghost”, that looked really cool in the TV ad, but didn’t live up to expectations (this is when I began to scrutinize TV ads).

In addition to great gifts, as I got older Dad began a tradition of taking me (and Mom) out to dinner for my birthday. While we would go to one of his favorite restaurants (only fair, since he was paying), I could order anything on the menu – which usually ended up being “lobster thermidor”. After I was married, my Mother-in-Law (who also felt that my birthday was “too close to Christmas”) would always send me gifts on the 27th of June – my “half-birthday” as she called it.

I tried to continue this tradition with my kids – I’d take them to the toy store for a “toy of their choice” (within spending reason) for their birthdays and later, out to their favorite place for birthday dinners. This worked OK until they got “too old to spend time with Dad”, and let me know that they’d rather just have cash and go out with their friends.

As for me, well, when Dad passed away, that was pretty much the end of birthdays being special. While Mom always sent a funny and interesting card, with the standard obligatory check (which I usually used to pay for my daughter’s birthday gift – her birthday’s in the beginning of January), the old magic and excitement was gone. I’d usually take myself out to dinner when I could afford it. The Ex, well, she never really made an effort (once she even stuck my daughter with the tab), which is why she’s “the ex”.

As for the kids, well, they’d come up with the typical kid gifts, which were never as important or appreciated as much as the hugs and kisses. I still have a few hanging around. Like my Father’s Day gifts, most are in storage boxes. Now it’s just birthday cards and cash or gift cards.

So Happy Birthday to me, and thanks Dad, for being so thoughtful. I miss you every day.