When I was a tiny child, there were rules. Lots of rules, to provide lots of structure for growth. My parents loved to us to be guided by standards. We had many, many traditions that helped all of us to grow up to be successful adults.
|I'm the runner|
As a family of 8, rules helped to make sure that everyone got fed, dressed and a tiny bit of privacy.
Rules helped to make things as fair as they could be between siblings.
Rules for our family birthday traditions were pretty simple.
1. The Birthday child was the center of attention for the day, getting to sit in their favorite chair without having to call dibs. Believe me, having the chair of your choice is really a big deal.
2. The Birthday child choose what's for dinner including what flavor cake was served as Happy Birthday was sung.
3. The Birthday child received their presents after dinner.
4. The Birthday child was able to have birthday cake for the morning after breakfast if they chose to do so.
But for one of us, there were special rules.
This child must receive a present wrapped in Birthday paper.
This child must receive a present the next day as well.
This child gets to have a special morning, but the afternoon is occupied by other family needs.
This child gets to hear, yearly, about how her birth messed up Christmas.
|I'm the baby|
And our Aunt Liz just didn't know how to cook ANYTHING, much less a Christmas Dinner.
Now, my Mom knew that it was likely I would come along over Christmas week.
So she went ahead a bought a prepared Christmas Turkey Dinner that simply needed to be warmed up.
A true rarity in 1959, rarely did anyone purchase prepared food for a holiday meal.
And Aunt Liz refused to listen to my sister and brother when they said it needed to be warmed on low.
While my Dad was at the hospital visiting Mom and I - the lucky birthday girl, she tossed the entire meal into a 450 degree oven and burned everything to a crisp.
After my Dad put her on the bus to NYC, my older siblings went out for pizza Christmas Dinner.
My slight confusion about what part of the buildup to the holidays was for Christmas and what was for me had been a part of my life.
Having a December Birthday can be wonderful, after you turn 30. No one remembers without a reminder that your birthday is happening. Well, family of course, but only true friends don't need a reminder.
Our Family Christmas tree has always been a bit of a quandary for my family.
When I was tiny, the rule was that the tree didn't go up until the afternoon. It lived on one special half moon table that sat at the front window, and I got to pick the first ornament on it. Well, most years I did.
You know, it took till I was 3 or so before I realized that not everyone got a tree to decorate on their birthday.
Now, with children of my own who also have December birthdays, our tradition is a bit different.
They are amazing, thoughtful girls who think about others when they think of themselves.
When they started attending kindergarten, they learned more about tree spirits and the idea that all beings have feelings. They came home that year, a week before their birthday, to say they no longer wanted a cut Christmas tree, only an artificial one.
Oh my goodness, that threw me for a moment.
Luckily, I was able to find one that we enjoyed for many years till we moved into a much smaller home.
And discovered that a tree was a big pain when it sat in the middle of our front window, so one year of that was all we managed.
By now, the girls were teens, who didn't want to have to take a day to decorate and a day to take down the tree, they were busy.
So last year we started a new tradition that harkened back to my early days of a tabletop tree. A miniature Rosemary bush that is sold trimmed into a Christmas tree shape.
Voila! Decorated in minutes and adding a lovely scent to the table all December. Best of all, it gets planted into the garden come spring.
Love this look, but on a tiny Rosemary tree, those oranges would be too large and heavy.
A Charlie Brown tree isn't the intention.
While I was peeling a tangerine, the idea hit.
Stars and swirls from the peel!
I freehand cut the stars, which gave each one a quirky special appearance.
The swirls were truly simple.
I cut thin strips of the peel, then twisted each around a bamboo skewer, then removed the skewer.
Bonus is that once they are cut out, they dry within a week or so.