Happy Birthday, Rebecca!

by Samantha Millar, Carolyn Henry, Glynis Henry, Julie Millar

Lets wish Rebecca a Happy Birthday on March 15th!! Rebecca’s birthday memories help us learn about different ways to celebrate birthdays.The following is from Rebecca with our comments.

Okay….people who don’t share my background always find this a little strange, but my very first birthday present didn’t come until the birthday I turned 9. 

You see, it is customary for us to really go all out for the birthdays of our elders- so twice a year, we had to dress up and we’d fill the entire restaurant where my 2 grandparents each got elaborate 10-course banquets and be given money from their guests. These were big, big deals that took up the whole day, and we’d do family portraits in the restaurant. 

 In contrast, children’s birthdays were never considered- no, you had to wait until you got old!! [Carolyn: Gee, I am glad I am not from your background.]

 What changed is that when I turned 9, an aunt who was more modern decided it was high time I received a present. Pretty sure no other kid in history was as thrilled as I to get a shirt for their birthday! I think it was my first exposure to a present meant specifically for me and only me. I hung on to that shirt well past the time I could still wear it- wish I’d kept it for Iris Hannah because by the time she’s old enough, that late 70’s style is sure to be fashionable again! [Samantha: I would never get rid of that shirt]

Yes, we had toys, and books, and board games, but they were “family gifts”- no one kid could lay claim to it; it was meant for all. And being the last of 5 kids, (not to mention the 3rd youngest of 15 cousins), pretty much everything that eventually made its way to me had first filtered through many others. [Samantha: I knew there was a reason I was glad to be the oldest]

 And yeah, I’d been to my classmates’ birthdays for which I brought gifts, but birthday presents were for other kids, not us, and it seemed perfectly normal to me that we didn’t do birthdays. Consequently, I have a tendency to let birthdays slip by unremarked, which is not good, because people think you don’t care.   [Carolyn: We know you care Rebecca.]

When Caitlyn was growing up, we followed the custom and threw annual birthday parties for her with her friends- nothing elaborate, but still my mother used to look askance and remark, “In MY day, we didn’t….”. It was hilarious to think what my mother would have made of the fancier children’s parties with hired clowns and bouncy castles. 

Last year, during my birthday week in mid-March, stores, theaters, and coffee shops were shutting their doors and people were not allowed to gather. In that regard, almost a year later, nothing has changed. [Carolyn: Sigh.]  Last Wednesday was Iris’ first birthday, and I saw pictures of her digging into a cupcake, wearing frosting on her nose and cheeks…, for my birthday, maybe I’ll re-create that picture- smeared frosting and all!   [Carolyn & Samantha:  We would love to see that.]

Here is what grand-daughter and grandmother looked like on their birthdays….

3 Replies to “Happy Birthday, Rebecca!”

  1. I knew children’s birthdays weren’t celebrated the same way as elders. I didn’t know your first gift was a shirt though! I think I can guess which aunt. Thank you for the interesting anecdote mom! Happy Birthday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.