Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Birthdays

I like birthdays. Other people's especially. Even more when there is cake. I mean GOOD cake. Not the glop from the supermarket that makes your teeth itch and tongue feel greasy from the lard in the frosting.

When I met my husband, his family had a tradition of all getting together for one another's birthdays. Usually not on the day itself, but somewhen shortly thereafter. I came from a family where there were no themed birthday parties of 52 squealing children meant more to impress the mothers than the kids. No pony rides. No clowns (thank goddess on that one). Mine were more subdued and generally made up of my parents and/or my grandparents. Maybe going out to dinner. But there was cake. Glorious cake home-made by my mom. Yum. Perfect.

But something happened and the family birthdays slowed down and have now come to a complete halt. How sad. We don't get to see each other all that often and kids grow up so fast. What a shame. So much cake to be had.

Stemming from the family birthdays, the tradition of regularly getting everyone together in the midst of our busy lives was very appealing to me. The birthday part was just an excuse. My husband and I are blessed with some really great friends and maybe this was a way to make sure we all stayed in regular contact. Thus "the usual suspects" came into being. Coincidentally enough, there was a birthday almost every month. Sometimes two!

The birthday person gets to pick where they want to go and/or what they want to do. Sometimes it's dinner at a place we haven't been in a while or sometimes it's trampolines, sometimes it's a party under a tarp. When one of the suspects had a baby, there was a tutu party. We all wore tutus and it was a blast! Her children have been firmly embraced in this tradition and are just as much a part of this group as the rest of us. One member moved to Boston, several new ones have joined up or have been sucked in. Willingly. Sometimes different circles of friends overlap and start their own friendships. The fluidity is great. But the best part? They all get along even with very different political, religious, social, economic and personal views. There are no arguments, no bickering or posturing, no "oh no, we have to go to that party with them - can we avoid it?" Proving that this "village" of people can make a difference. They do to me anyway. New ideas are born and encouraged, new friendships made, different points of view are listened to respectfully. Old stories are told, new ones are created.

And there is always cake.