I turned 55 years old a few days ago. This was the first birthday I celebrated without my Mom. She passed away three weeks after my birthday last year. I had a wonderful celebration this year with my daughters and sister. We spent a glorious day shopping and I was treated to a delicious lunch. There was only one thing missing. For the first time in 55 years I did not have a birthday cake (or pie or brownies) with a candle in it and nobody sang Happy Birthday. You wouldn’t think it would be a big deal. We have no babies in my extended family yet; the youngest is 19. And, at every birthday party when my Mom would bring out the cake and candle(s) and start singing Happy Birthday, everyone rolled their eyes and grudgingly sang along. I tried to continue this tradition this past year and in prior years when hosting birthday parties and received the same eye rolls and grudging participation.
In a couple weeks we will be celebrating my daughter’s, my niece’s, and my nephew’s birthdays. Instead of the usual party at someone’s house, the family voted to go out to eat. It will be another birthday celebration without a cake, candles, or Happy Birthday song. I wonder if those three honorees will notice the absence. It makes me sad. Are family traditions slowly dying to join my parents in another world? Have my family members become so sophisticated that birthday cakes and songs are too corny? I hope not and if I have any say, I will be hosting all the birthday parties in the family after our next planned restaurant outing. And, I will be sure there will be a cake (or two or three…one for each birthday person) and the traditional Happy Birthday songs at which they all roll their eyes.