Thursday, July 27, 2006

Remembering Naomi's Half-Birthday

Long ago and far away when Naomi was 5, or so, we first heard about half-birthdays. That's where you celebrate the 6-month point following your last birthday... the official day you can now say, "I am ___ and-a-half-years old." You baked a little half cake... you gave a simple little half-of-a-card and a tiny trinket from a dime store.

You kept it simple. You kept it cheap. It was just all-around supposed to be an easy, thoughtful thing to do for your children.

Yeah right... If you are smart, you will not start celebrating half-birthdays.

The first few times we celebrated Naomi's half-birthday were fine. Quiet. Just the three of us around the diningroom table making Naomi feel special. Just a sweet family time.

And then things got complicated. One might even say wild. Before I knew what had happened, an 8-and-a-half-year-old Naomi had talked me into a whole, full-blown birthday party with nearly all the bells and whistles. Oh, no theme park nonsense, you understand... Just crepe paper streamers and balloons and four giggling little girls over to spend the summer afternoon eating birthday cake (half of one, of course), ice cream, potato chips and candy before opening the tiny little trinket presents they'd brought for Naomi.

And by the time she was 17, I remember looking outside our bedroom window on the morning after Naomi's half-birthday, at our tent all set-up in the backyard, wondering if things had gotten a tad out-of-control... Ten (or more) girls were sleeping inside the tent and would eventually come stumbling outside, ready for breakfast.

After all, they were up quite late at the big, house-shaking co-ed party which Naomi had held in our attic the night before.

Heh. Actually, ok.... I'm not smart. I did start the half-birthday thing in our house and--of course--not one year afterward did Naomi ever let the day pass unnoticed. But you know? I'm not sorry... not at all. For one thing, Naomi's real birthday always comes in the deadest, darkest part of winter... January 27th. Usually on the snowiest, iciest, most dangerous day of the whole year, thus, causing only the bravest (most foolhardy?) amongst her friends to show-up for her party. And well, nearly always July 27th is all things opposite-- clear and balmy and warm... and always that evening may even be said to be magical. Perfect for parties for just 20 of ones closest friends.

Last night Naomi called because I'd sent her an email saying I'd love for her to drop by because I had a half-birthday gift for her... She told me that since she was so old now, I really didn't have to do the half-birthday thing if I didn't want to. She'd understand.

But oh my! I do want to... Months ago when I heard that the 1960's show, That Girl, was coming out on dvd, I immediately thought, "Aha! What a perfect half-birthday gift for Naomi," ( my lover-of-all-things-1960's-and-70's daughter). So she came over this morning, I gave her the That Girl dvd's in a simple gift bag and she was delighted. She'll be able to use these dvd's to help her recognize, describe and price her tons of retro stuff which she sells on Ebay. And they will give her decorating ideas as well as smiles...

We chatted and smiled in the driveway in my quiet neighborhood and then she drove away on this hot, hot July 27th--yet another of her half-birthdays. She couldn't stay long because she had to get ready for her real job, a part of the real-life my little-girl-all-grown-up now leads across town, and in some ways, across the world from my own. We are very different... and yet much the same.

And no, again, I probably wasn't smart to start celebrating half-birthdays in the first place. And yet I'm glad I did. Childhood passes so very quickly and afterward, all you have left are the memories of the things you are so glad--now--that you went ahead and celebrated while you once had the chance.

P.S. These are pictures of the mantle I rearranged in my room upstairs, all because a friend of mine surprised me with the pink card (see photos) in Tuesday's mail--a tiny piece of inspiration! And the last picture reminded me of the way I see my town--as though through magic glasses which put a sort of magical, blurry sheen over all that I see... making those houses and trees and streets--and my life-- look quite different than the way others see them...

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