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Birthdays just aren’t exciting anymore

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark anyway. It was the night I was born many, MANY years ago.

This is the week my personal calendar flips to new year. By the end of January I will be one year closer to my 100th birthday.

I’m not planning a big celebration but I am grateful for another year. I figure after the Biblical “three score and ten” every year is a bonus.

Of course, I remember nothing from my birth. My father told me it occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on Friday and mine was the cheapest of the seven maternity bills he paid.

When my parents brought me home from the hospital we lived in a tiny three-room house (without plumbing) on my grandparents’ farm. My first memories, however, are from a larger house a half mile down the road. It, too, had no indoor plumbing which was something we didn’t have until we moved to town when I was five-years-old.

In the years that have followed, I have considered indoor plumbing one of life’s sweetest luxuries.

My childhood birthdays were always simple affairs but memorable nonetheless. My mother baked an angel food cake, always served with ice cream, and invited two sets of aunts and uncles and their families to join us. Gifts were given and appreciated.

The two uncles were great guys but they got a charge out of teasing me. I was too young and stupid to realize they enjoyed my vociferous reactions.

They began teasing me about girls. I liked girls alright but in my pre-adolescence I wasn’t about to admit it. One time the teasing continued until I lost my temper and uttered some less than sanctified words. This, of course, activated my mother’s “Kid Cussing” alarm and a strong scolding ensued.

My uncles didn’t want to upset my mother so they backed off. I made a note of this and when they teased me in the future I took it for a minute or so and then let loose with a couple of select expletives. Mom hollered at me, my uncles stopped teasing and all was well.

My birthday memories include at least three years of this madness. Ultimately my uncles quit teasing me about girls, I suppose because I was protesting less. My attraction to the other gender was a bit one-sided at this time of my life but I wasn’t going to deny it.

For the record, I loved my tormentors. Uncle Harold and Uncle Stoffer were great guys and I cherish their memories. My affection for them grew and continued to grow over the years.

I had the good fortune of being born on my Uncle Leonard’s 24th birthday and until he passed away a decade ago Leonard and I celebrated together every year-one year at our house and the next year at his. My parents hosted the event until I married and then my wife and I became the hosts.

In our years in Sioux City many of our friends were a few years older than we were. We were invited to a series of 40th birthday celebrations and I was asked to write and deliver a roast of the birthday celebrant.

My wife warned me that my turn was coming up in a few years but I scoffed. “We’ll go out of town on my birthday,” I said.

When my 40th birthday came around we did plan an out-of-town trip for the day of my birthday. I thought I was quite smart.

However, the evening before my 40th birthday a friend stopped by to “take me out for an ice cream cone” in observance of the big day.

When his car headed another direction I realized I was in trouble. A large group of our friends had gathered and I was paid back for the smart-aleck roasts I had given in preceding years. As they say, paybacks are hell.

Family members made a big deal out of my 50th and 60th birthdays, surprising me both times. As the oldest of my siblings I was the ice-breaker for each of those “decade” birthdays.

No big celebration is planned for this birthday and for that I am grateful. As a sign of having celebrated many birthdays, I like quiet.

Birthdays these days just aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Yet, I’m grateful for each one.

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