On January 8th, seventy years ago, at precisely 10:30 in the morning, a scream of joy erupted from my tiny mouth as I gasped my first breath of life. I don’t know if I was a planned addition to the St. Andrews clan or not, but I always felt loved by my mom. My dad was different; his family never showed their emotions.
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I attended a lot of friends’ birthday parties but never had one of my own. Oh, my family would always celebrate each of our birthdays with a birthday cake, baked by our dear Ma, and her baking and cooking were legendary.
But I never complained about not having a birthday party, because my mom was busy trying to raise six children with a household budget stretched to the limit. Ma did everything she could to make our birthdays special, and her cakes were b with love. She loved each of us kids!
Ma would wait until everyone had finished dinner, and then she would use my dad’s lighter to light the candles on the cake.
Then Ma would hold the lighted cake up for everyone to see, as my dad turned off the ceiling light. And then everyone would sing happy birthday. At the end of the song, Ma would place the cake directly in front of you and tell you to close your eyes and make a wish.
But she always warned us to keep our ‘wish’ a secret, or else it would never come true.
Mom was superstitious but mostly kept those thoughts to herself. Her mom – my Grandma Puffer – was ultra-superstitious. I guess the apple does fall close to the tree. But I have never considered myself superstitious – although I never walk under ladders.
Both my Ma and Grandma Puffer were religious, though. My two older sisters, my brother, and I used to go to Sunday School every Sunday morning. And every Sunday evening, the four of us sang in the choir at the church service. We went to Christ Church (Anglican) on Mary Street in Oshawa, Ontario.
My mom would be sitting alone in the church during the evening service. Dad only went to church if it was a wedding or funeral. But while I was sitting in the choir, I would often watch my Ma as she sat there by herself. And sometimes, I would notice her crying.
She wasn’t sobbing or crying loud enough for anyone to notice. I remember asking her why she cried at church, but she wouldn’t tell me. So, she probably had secrets. Who doesn’t?
At the time, Ma was probably in her early thirties. My parents had a loving relationship, and I don’t remember them ever fighting or arguing. So, I’m not sure what was on Ma’s mind that made her cry at church. But as I’ve often noted – we all have three types of secrets, namely: the ones we only tell family and friends; the ones we only tell our most trusted friends or family members; and the ones we keep to ourselves and carry to the grave with us.
I am going to share a couple of secrets with you today, on my birthday. They are not earth-shattering secrets, and I may have shared some of them with you already. Here they are:
- I dislike onions, green peppers, olives, seafood, and especially pork ‘n beans. None of these should even be a part of the food chain.
- I dislike the color green.
- I dislike opera.
- I dislike lineups – for anything.
- My favorite number is 3
- I love to give gifts, but I feel uncomfortable to receive them.
- I have only loved four women in my life, and two of them were my Ma and Grandma Puffer. I loved them unconditionally, all my life. Sadly, they’re no longer alive.
- I hate saying goodbye to a best friend
- My first love married a wealthy chap – whose birthday is also January 8th, although he is a few years older than me. What are the odds of that happening?
Although I’ve never had a birthday party, I will be celebrating this birthday at my dentist’s office. Mouna, Debbie, and all of the staff at Croydon Dental are like family to me. I enjoy flirting with all of them and watching their eyes light up when I arrive with a tub of ginger snap cookies from Trader Joe’s. If you’ve never tasted these cookies – beware! They’re addictive. I’ve never tried them, but everyone tells me they’re awesome.
I’m bringing each of them a tub of the cookies. Santa Danny teaches children the importance of ‘giving’ instead of ‘receiving’ material things. He also encourages that giving should be all-year-long – not just at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. Giving will make your heart feel warm, and that’s a good thing.
In closing, I’m now seventy years young. I don’t feel old, and I hope to live until I’m 103 years old. And I plan to celebrate all of my future birthdays at my dentist’s office.
As for my birthday wish – I no longer make one. My last was when I got diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
Dedicated to Dr. Mouna Hachichou and Debbie McDonald
Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):