Birthday Weekend Finale

On Monday morning at 10:45am, EVERY FLIGHT out of San Antonio had been canceled or delayed. The thrice-a-year all-day fog had descended on the city, causing mischief and mayhem. Our gate alone had three flight’s worth of misplaced passengers, waiting not-so-patiently for the fog to lift and planes to be re-routed.

Jet to Philly, however (Thank you Southwest, for appreciating the importance of a direct flight between SAT and PHL. You belong in every airport in the country. Cead mille failte.), landed fifteen minutes early. While all us Nor’easters collected our bags and coats, the very nice gate-keeper ladies came back on the overhead, explaining that the Philly jet was bigger than everyone else’s, and therefore able to land and take off in fog. She was trying to quell the unruly masses, who looked so riotous (some of them had been at the gate since 5 am) I feared for the safety of the pilots, should any of the dissenters make it on to the Philly-bound jet. It was not outside the realm of possibility that five minutes into the air we’d all suddenly find ourselves on the way to New Orleans (the canceled 7:15am flight). Adventure!

However, gate-keeper lady was able to calm everyone down enough for us to get on our flight, but not without many dirty looks. And someone may have thrown something at one of the last passengers to board.

In any event, we were on the plane and in the air before you could say “Bob’s your uncle.” I got a row all to myself and we landed in chilly Philly (no New Orleans detours) 30 minutes early. Have I mentioned how much I love Southwest Airlines?

On a side note, it’s wonderful how much delight I got in simply seeing my breath in the air. It’s now a novelty to me. It’s weird that something so simple, that I spent decades not noticing, suddenly becomes an event I stop traffic for! (Snow has become a tourist attraction for me, as well.)

It was fairly late in the day when I arrived at the parental manse, just enough time to get some food in (warm roast beef on Italian rolls with stinky provolone… oh Northeast, I do so miss your plethora of delicious non-Latin food options), have an on-the-spot song composed and sung to me (movie at the top), and get the cake going. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and old family friends all appeared quite suddenly to sing and partake.

In our family, we have a Happy-Birthday-singing tradition. I’ve not heard anyone else’s family ever do this, but maybe other families tone it down when they have guests. Mine does not.

Our Family Birthday serenade consists of three verses by the singers, and optional replies shouted by the recipient of the gift of song:

verse 1) Happy Birthday to You!
(optional reply: Duh duh DUH!)

verse 2) How old are you, now?
(optional reply: whatever the celebrant’s age is; alternately, “29” for the older crowd)

verse 3) May the good Lord bless you!
(optional reply: Thank you!)

This lengthy, joyous gift of verse is sung by all, and heightens the sense of excitement for everyone involved. It gives the little kids a chance to wiggle around and shout very loudly without reprimand. It is, without fail, a good show.

To the left is my grandpa, who, despite having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about ten years ago, is pretty much at the top of his game. When we were little and couldn’t blow all the candles out in one try he would try to frighten us into bigger breaths by telling us the number of candles left lit were the amount of kids we were going to have someday. Doesn’t get as many laughs now that we are all actually of child-bearing age.

To the right is my cousin Jill, and next to her is her sister Nicole. The four of us (Me, Nicole, Jill, and my sister Kezz) grew up together and then the three of us went to the same college at the same campus when Kezz left for fame and fortune and eternal glory. Jill is now a nurse and Nicole works deciphering ridiculous medical documents (she’s tried to explain it to me two different times and it’s just not clicking), Kezz is living the dream on a tropical island, and I am an amateur blogger. (I’m testing the waters of the pro-circuit. I don’t think I’m ready.)

Another, less official birthday tradition, is that the video cameras run while the actual candles are being blown out, and then we stage a “blow-out” scene for the many still-frame cameras that swarm into all birthdays. I think this started back in the day, when there were so many little kids (over 20 first cousins, and we often had second cousins in attendance) that all of our moms (and Grandma) saved and shared and reused candles until they were little candle nubs. A second lighting for still pictures was just a waste. Behold the results of years of prolonged candle-blowing poses:

One of my gifts this year was apparently a hunch-back. I knew it was coming.

I’m going to need to shoutout to the card-signers (picker-outers) this year. This was truly a banner year for memorable cards. Chris and Tina (my parent-in-laws) win the award for most touching card. My husband’s family has a birthday tradition of competing for who can get the card that induces the most tears. Chris and Tina won (though I actually held it together when I read the card in their presence… I’m good like that).

Danae wins for the most appropriate celebratory card (in the shape of my favorite cold beverage). Patty wins for the card that made me laugh the hardest, with a super-appropriate nod to why we get along as well as we do (we tend to scare normal people). And Uncle Dan and Aunt Pat win for the wackiest card (a cat worshiping a can of tuna; feline humor has suddenly found it’s place for me now that we have a psycho-princess-kitty).

I would tell you about the rest of the week in the Philly-metro (read, South Jersey) area, but I’ve been too busy enjoying myself to stop and write about it. I’ll save any of the good stories for later, when I’m bored. Like, perhaps if my flight out of here gets canceled due to insane amounts of fog and/or snow. Or Superbowl fanatics leaving the Northeast for the sunny south.

PS: In case anyone was wondering, I’m rooting for the Cardinals, because Kurt Warner is one of the best Rocky-esques ever and that’s all any Philly fan really wants.


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