Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My best and worst birthdays

As it's my birthday this week, I thought it would be fun to look at some best/worst birthdays, gifts and cake. Please, please, please share your own! I would love that.

When I was younger, as you'll find out later on in this post, I never had great birthdays. I think my family just weren't very thoughtful about them, nobody really tried to make the day special in any way. Usual presents for me growing up were things for the future. Things I'd probably have or get to do whether or not it was my birthday but that got lumped into the category of 'birthday presents' anyway. Together with my birthday falling in the middle of summer when I wasn't in constant contact with school friends, it mostly felt forgotten.

Worst birthday present - I don't remember how old I was, but I think I was maybe 11. And my best friend in the whole world at the time celebrated her birthday a few weeks before me. I have NO idea what I gave her for her birthday (if anything at all!) which may have been a factor in her birthday present to me, I'm not sure? Anyway, the morning of my birthday, the doorbell rings, and she's standing in front of me. She says 'Happy birthday' and whips out of her pocket this teeny little troll, you know the ones, with rainbow coloured hair. She has this huge smile on your face as I took it, she dashed away yelling 'bye' over her shoulder.

I actually quite liked the little thing, I always thought they were kind of cute. It did strike me as a little odd as I hadn't had any of the trolls before that and had never mentioned liking them, but whatever. I liked it. I liked that she'd remembered. It was only a few weeks later that it became my worst birthday present ever.

My best friend, I'm going to call her Sally, had her first boyfriend that summer. In fact, when she ran away on my birthday, I think she'd gone to spend the day with him. So, a few weeks later, Sally and I were at the dollar store (we were 11!) shopping for her boyfriend's birthday present. I remember picking up a troll with blue hair and holding it up to Sally 'what about this?' and she looked at the troll, nearly identical to my very own and said 'Not a chance! I can't give him something so stupid and immature.' and turned back to whatever she'd been looking at.

Aww. What a thing to have held onto for more than 15 years.

Best birthday present: I don't remember every present I got that year, but I remember for my 21st birthday, N really pulled out all the stops. He thought really long and hard and he gave me 21 of the most thoughtful and wonderful presents ever. And he spread out opening the gifts over the entire day. They just kept coming and coming and it was all so overwhelming!

We'd spent the day at Pooh Country, you know how much I love Eeyore, and we played pooh-sticks at this bridge and it was such a great day. I loved it so much.

Worst birthday: So, so many. The year everyone forgot. The year my birthday was spent tired and hot driving through Northern California. When we stopped for the night, it was in a casino hotel and my dad and brother left me alone in the hotel room to go gamble. The year I was sent off to a boot camp and spent the day doing manual labour. They all happened on or before my 16th birthday though. They're all behind me and I think as I get older, it becomes less important to me, celebrating in any way. Perhaps next year I'll feel differently about birthdays though, who knows? (I'm 29 this year - I wonder how I'll feel turning 30!)

Best birthday: Since I met N, birthdays have really turned around. The birthday that stands out for me is my 18th, seeing as how I've already mentioned my 21st!

The time around my 18th was pretty hectic. N had flown out to see me and together we'd flown from Oregon down to LA to visit the British High Commission in order to apply for a visa for me to return to England with him. We'd spent a few days in and around LA, visiting Disneyland (where N proposed!) and then just before my birthday, N and I flew to Seattle. N had rented this adorable little bed and breakfast for us.

We spent the day sightseeing and then when it came to dinnertime, we found a nice Indian restaurant (N's favourite and my first ever time eating Indian food) and N had bought me a beautiful dress and shoes and a handbag. It was all very nice, especially the mango cheesecake for dessert!

Birthday cake: When I was younger, my brother and I always had store-bought birthday cakes. There'd be big puffy blue flowers and little plastic toys and 'Happy birthday' spelt out in really shaky icing. I never knew any differently. For my 21st birthday, N went to our favourite little bakery and bought a fancy birthday cake that was absolutely DELICIOUS. But I had my favourite birthday cake on my 16th birthday.

I've mentioned previously that I spent my 16th birthday at a boot camp surrounded by delinquents doing manual labour. But it really wasn't all that bad. Every week, each crew was able to pick one special something for dessert. And my crew leader saved this boxed cake mix to have on the night of my birthday. How he managed to bake a cake over a campfire is beyond me, but it came out pretty good. He'd even brought things to make homemade ice cream. And as my crew and I sat around the campfire that night with our cake and our ice cream, they went around in a circle and each one of them said one nice about me in lieu of presents. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me, and I will always remember it.

What have been your best or worst birthdays so far? What things will you always remember about birthdays past?


  1. This is a wondeful, post Clover. Such a good idea. My parents were really good about birthdays, we kind of saw them on the same level as Christmas and asked for one thing and really looked forward to it. We always got a few other things too. My mum doesn't like partys so we had our own little 'party' after dinner, with a cake and candles and a song, and a plate full of sweets each for all us brothers and sisters.

    My 18th is a bit bitter sweet, my boyfriend and I were having a rough time and people were all set against us for no fault of our own, so we went for dinner and one drink, my first, and it was a little strained. But we vowed to fight for us, and promised eachother it would be ok. It was.

    My 17th was special because it was about 10 days before our first kiss, and M had made me a book with little sayings and pictures of things we did or laughed about, it was very personal and thoughful and meant alot. We got this photo with an arm around eachother and I really love that photo, the beginning!

    I loved my last 2 birthdays, a proper party for my 21st and a lovely group meal and a new dress for my 22nd. :)

  2. As far as cake went when I was a kid, I always got half a cake. Rachel got the other half. We had to share. I always hated having to share a cake with her..

    My worst birthday was when we turned 12. It was our first year in Oregon and I only had a handful of friends. Being that my birthday is also in summer, no one came to my party. The worst part was I had only invited 2 people. We were gonna go see a movie and have lunch or something..

    Best birthday would have to be my 17th. I finally got the Chuck E. Cheese birthday party my mom promised I could have when I was younger. The closest Chuck E. Cheese was up in Salem and I had my own car then. So me and a few friends got to drive up by ourselves to meet my mom and Rachel. I think that was the best part. Getting to drive and goof off without my mom there.. That and my friend Liz and I decided to dye our bangs purple in the Chuck E. Cheese bathroom.. Fun times!

  3. Aw, I'm so sorry your younger birthdays weren't good :( The birthdays N has organised sound fabulous though - what a gem he is!

    I love the description of your 16th birthday, campfires are something very special and that sounds so touching.

    My birthdays have often been damp squibs 'cos of the weather and living in the country (my birthday is at the end of December and there is often bad ice and sometimes snow). The last few years have involved theatre trips with friends and they've been lovely.

  4. ALL My birthdays have been great, especially the one's when growing up. Birthday's in our family are a big deal. I have followed on all the great traditions with my kids.

  5. Fiona - Thank you. I love the sound of your family making such a big deal out of birthdays - like Christmas! I couldn't even imagine. I try very hard to make a huge deal out of my children's birthdays. I'm so glad you've had good birthdays.

    Becca - It sounds so sad, only having half a cake. As does your birthday party with no guests :( But AWWW, a Chuck E Cheese party! How fantastic.

    Jenni - N really IS a gem, he's been really good about making things special. I'm sorry that your birthdays have been disappointing as well, the end of December sounds like a pretty miserable time for birthdays! Though theatre trips definitely sound awesome.

    Marybelle - That's absolutely wonderful to hear! :)

  6. I've never had a birthday as bad as some as yours, but I've been ill during them quite a few times. The worst was my 16th birthday, when I was housebound by doctor's orders. At least I got out of PE for a few weeks afterwards!

    I hope you make the rest of your birthdays special, to make up for lost time :)

  7. Aww I am really glad you have some specials ones there between the less greater ones!
    I haven't really had any bad Birthdays, my worse Christmas was my last one as l had a sickness bug and was being sick every 15 minutes. It was my nieces first Christmas and my nephews first proper one that he understood =)

  8. Julianne - Thank you! I love how you're still willing to look on your sick and (miserable-sounding) birthdays in a positive light :)

    BooksForCompany - Aww. Being ill on holidays is the worst! :(


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