This year, my Mom instigated a new tradition for our family- The “Birthday Bonanza.” What is a Birthday Bonanza you might ask? Well it’s basically a fancy name my Mom gave wanting to combine several of her children and grandchildren’s birthdays together so she could get them over with in one big dinner. So far this year, she’s had two Birthday Bonanzas. Our most recent birthday Bonanza was a huge success. We celebrated My brother Michael’s birthday and my nieces Abby and Ava and nephew Michael’s 3rd birthdays. This Bonanza had THREE different cakes and celebrated the honorees birthdays BEFORE their actual birthday-something that almost NEVER happens in our family. We’re never early for anything! My Mom was very pleased.
While the second birthday Bonanza went smoothly, the first Birthday Bonanza was a bit of a different story. My Dad, my niece Ciara, my sisters Bridget and Jane and myself were all the Guinea pigs for this one. All of our birthdays are either in March or April and we finally got our Birthday Bonanza in June. From the very start of planning for this inaugural bonanza I couldn’t help but feel like we were putting my mom out. “Now listen!” My mom said to me a few days before the Bonanza, anger and annoyance in her voice “I HAVE A PORK ROAST THAT’S BEEN IN THE FREEZER FOR TOO LONG NOW SO WE ARE USING IT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY DINNER! IF I DON’T USE IT SOON IT IS GOING TO GO BAD SO THAT IS WHAT WE ARE HAVING, END OF DISCUSSION!” I sat there for a minute a little confused as I didn’t have a clue as to why I was being yelled at about a pork roast when I was just innocently sitting in the TV room sipping my Diet Coke trying to watch a Dateline I had recorded from the previous week. “Ummmm ok…” I responded. I could tell this frozen pork roast sitting in the freezer had been a dark cloud over my mom’s head for some time. So I decided to respond with a sarcastic comment “No better time to thaw out and serve a questionable hunk of meat than on the birthday celebration of your three old maid daughters huh Mom?” She then called me a little smart ass. I laughed.
The pork roast pressure must have been too stressful for my mom to handle because just one day before the big Bonanza she threw a curve ball at us and moved the location from my parents’ house to my brothers’ house.
Although it got off to a rocky start, Bonanza #1 turned out to be a good time and no one got sick from the frozen pork roast. It was a great day celebrating the three month anniversary of my 29th birthday.
Growing up, birthdays were a big deal in our house. It was your time to shine and get all the attention for once. Plus, you even got to choose the dinner that night! It was our parents way of making us feel special. They even let us use a plate on our birthday stating that we were special:
I, of course did not want my older sister Bridget to feel too special so I decided to be born on her birthday so we could share in the special-ness together. I often remind her that I am the greatest birthday gift she ever received. This meant that not only did we always have to coordinate on what dinner we wanted for our birthday celebration, my parents had to purchase ANOTHER “you are special plate.” After the unexpected financial burden of this extra plate, my mom must have tried to make up the cost by wrapping our birthday gifts in newspaper for the next 25 years. I don’t think any of us ever received a gift from my parents that was wrapped in birthday wrapping paper. Because nothing says “happy birthday” quite like getting a gift wrapped in the obituaries section.
But thank you Mom for cutting costs so Bridget and I could each have our own plates on our birthdays!
In addition to using newspaper to wrap our gifts, my mom was also a huge fan of reusing boxes. Mo has an eye for real sturdy, quality cardboard boxes. Did you think you were going to just toss that box your new iPhone came in? Oh no, think again-Mo Money has plans to use it on Christmas to wrap up some socks she got you, that box is NOT leaving the house. It will go in the box closet in the basement. Some might say these actions sound like early warning signs of hoarding, but we know they are actions of a mother’s love. When you get a gift from my mom, very rarely does the box coincide with the actual gift inside. It really adds to the surprise. I think this is why she always made us do the “hold up your unwrapped gifts for the camera” pose.
While the birthday dinners were mostly happy ones, there would always be a fight about blowing out the candles. Because the five of us kids were all jerks, we all got a huge thrill out of trying to blow out each others’ birthday candles. Like clockwork, we’d sing “Happy Birthday” and right as the birthday kid was about to make a wish and blow out the candles, one of us would come from behind and blow them out, then the birthday kid would cry, or hit the sibling that blew them out and then that kid would cry, then my mom would re-light the candles, we’d re-sing the last verse of “Happy Birthday” as my Dad held back and covered the mouth of the kid who blew out the candles so the birthday boy or girl could finally have their moment. Not going to lie, I was often the one being held back and having my mouth covered the second time around…
Although these days our birthday dinners are a little different than they used to be, I think the “Birthday Bonanza” is much better suited and way more efficient for our growing family. So Mom, kudos on keeping the birthday celebrations going and thanks for always making us feel special. And lastly, don’t think I didn’t notice you used actual wrapping paper for your grandkids’ gifts at the last Birthday Bonanza.