In our family, it is also birthday season. October heralds the beginning of a run of birthdays that continues all the way through to the end of January. There are not so many now my beloved grandparents are no longer celebrating earthly birthdays — but still there are quite a few to get through by the time you count in immediate family, aunts and uncles and extended family. There are also a number of friends who blow out candles at this time of the year, so most weeks, there is some kind of cake on offer.
Growing up, my family always made a fuss of birthdays. There would be presents and cards, and cake and my grandparents would always come over to see us after school and stay for dinner. Mum used to ask what we would like for dinner and what type of cake we would like, and our birthday dinner was always something to look forward to. Birthdays were always exciting.
When I was young, I always knew when my birthday was coming up, simply by the changing of the seasons. I lived in Queensland, across the road from a golf course. As soon as September arrived, the golf course would get that sweet summery smell. The plovers would begin nesting and calling out at night, and the transition into summer PJs would occur.
A few days out, cards would arrive in the mail and the sense of excitement would begin to grow.
During my University years, the jacarandas would begin to bloom in October. If anyone has ever been to The University of Queensland in October, you know it’s a sight to behold. For most of my fellow students, it was a bad sign, as it meant exams were on the horizon. Me, I loved them. Not only did they remind me of the tree my grandparents had in their front yard, but they were yet another sign my birthday was almost here.
Even though the number of candles on my cake increase each year, there is still a sense of excitement. But it’s not about what presents I will get and what fuss will be made of me, as it was in my younger years.
The excitement lies in watching my children get excited when my birthday comes along. For a couple of weeks, they think about what to buy. A few days before, paper, pens and pencils come out to make birthday cards, and the night before, there is much secrecy in our bedroom as they wrap their hand-picked presents, ready to give me the next day. All part of the birthday traditions in our house.
It’s nice to carry on traditions, I think. And while each family develops their own birthday traditions, I hope that the traditional excitement that birthdays bring is one that will never die.
Tell me, what birthday traditions do you carry on?