Birthdays in my family are reason to celebrate. Another excuse to hang with the family, eat some good food, share a lot of laughs and make some silent wishes when blowing out the candles. It is always a given, a birthday does not go past without singing, applause and well wishes. However, for my brother it is a bit different. His birthday is at the tail end of a ton of birthdays so he inadvertently gets the shaft. It might be his unassuming personality that leads others to believe that he wouldn’t mind so much if we didn’t have a big hoorah for him. Men really could care a less about that stuff right?
So, last week when his birthday came, no one thought it was a big deal that there was no cake, no eats and no candles to blow out. A few pecks on the cheek and some lottery tickets thrown into a card seemed appropriate enough. As he walked out of my yard, I saw the light. Maybe, for once he would like to be celebrated, he did do time growing up with four sisters who would have walked out in a storm if their birthdays were not acknowledged.
“We should have got him a cake,” I said to his wife. Within minutes, we planned an impromptu birthday party that was held at my parents’ kitchen table to honor my brother. We ordered pizza and his wife ran for a cake. After we inhaled the food, it was time for the cake and candles. When the cake was placed in front of him, his celebration turned comical. His birthday cake had a giant leprechaun sitting upon the icing with the words Happy St. Patrick’s Day written underneath. The only candles we could find were a pack of Hanukah candles my mother purchased from a yard sale. It wouldn’t be half as funny except we are an Italian catholic family. Placing Jewish holiday candles upon a cake with a saint’s name on it seemed a bit out there.
There was something on the kitchen table for every holiday except a birthday; we had the St. Patrick’s Day cake, The Hanukah candles, a Halloween dishcloth (we used to wipe up a spill) and some bunny decorations. It took us a minute to regain our composure and catch our breath from laughing so hard, but somehow we all managed to belt out a great rendition of Happy Birthday.
We are not the Joneses, no one needs to try and keep up with this family but there is no other family I would want to be a part of. My brother did not get a fancy cake or hundreds of guests, but his birthday will forever remain one of my favorite memories. I don’t know what he wished for that night when blowing out his Hanukah/Birthday candles but I know I wished for many more of those happy birthday’s to come, I’ll even take a cake with a leprechaun, after all leprechauns symbolize good luck.