Growing Up

I have been thinking about birthday parties and how I have done things so differently than my mom did. Growing up, when Patti and I were very young, the only birthday parties we had were with the relatives. So in a word- Dullsville! There were no decorations or games or anything memorable. Other than having a cake and ice cream there weren’t any fun times that jump to my memory.

It wasn’t that my mom was lazy, far from it, but it was the way she was raised. Her mother was ‘old‘. She was the perfect image of an Italian woman who came over on the boat. According to my mom, she was very ‘old country’ and was strict. My mom told me she had no fond memories of her childhood and how she would cringe when it was her birthday or a holiday at school where you send in treats. My grandmother would send my mom a brown paper bag filled with saltine crackers to hand out. (Yeah, that’s one way to make friends Grammy)! My mom told me she politely told her mother she did not want to bring the bag of crackers but HAD to. So I always related Patti and I’s lack of fun-filled children’s birthday parties on the mere fact that my mom had NO clue as to HOW to throw one.

When Patti and I were grown and out of the house, little sister Lisa lucked out by having birthday parties. My mom learned how to ‘do’birthday bashes and Lisa had fun swimming parties at the house. Sometimes Patti and I would say how Lisa got the childhood parties we never had…. que sera, sera.

Lisa also knew how to throw them too. One weekend my parents went to Las Vegas when Lisa was around 17. She was left home alone. Ha! At the time, Dennis had a police scanner and it was in our bedroom on his nightstand. We went to bed and he turned on the scanner. As we’re laying there, we hear a call for a ’415 -party’, and the dispatcher proceeds to give my parents address! I called their house immediately and some guy answered. When I asked to speak to Lisa, he didn’t know who she was! All background noise was LOUD and out of control. Dennis called my parent’s neighbor across the street- and he was fully aware of the anarchy happening on Shelter Cove Drive. He broke up the party . My parents were due home the next day and Dennis and I were planning on being there upon their arrival. After walking in the house, all you could smell was PINE SOL and booze. I would have never, ever pulled such a stunt when I was 17! I was watched like a hawk and nothing got by my parents. I was too frightened of getting into mischief so I was the boring one. Patti and Lisa had the ‘good times’. Lisa more so than Patti.

When my kids were growing up I always made sure there was a party. Whether it be at a skating rink, or in the backyard, I always had activities and party bags and lots of food for everyone to enjoy. (What am I saying???? I STILL do that).

My 50th birthday party was one of the best parties I could have ever hoped for. It was a surprise party that was organized by my sister Lisa, at Buca Di Beppo. The original plan was, that like all of my birthday parties we have here, was going to be a pizza and buffalo chicken party with cake and ice cream. My family was all invited and everything was set for that evening, but little did I know that there was a big shindig planned elsewhere. I was out back on the patio, scrubbing chairs, washing my kitchen floor, dusting, cleaning, doing all sorts of getting -your-house-ready-for-guests when after HOURS of slaving away, Dennis kindly tells me that there is a change in plans. He said he called everyone and told them NOT to come for dinner, but to come for cake and ice cream. I was mortified! How could he have uninvited the family? He said he wanted to take me out to dinner, with just the kids. I was in a fit of fury. Not because I’d be going out to dinner with him and the kids, but the pizza was a TRADITION! Plus the fact that I had been cleaning like a madwoman for a few hours before I am told about this ’plan’. And I was freaking out over what everyone else was thinking. But arriving at Buca and seeing the room filled with all of my family and friends and knowing they were all there for me- – was something. I couldn’t imagine people taking the time out of their lives to all show up. It’s one thing when they come over to the house for the Pizza Birthday Party, but this was so much more. I will never forget that night!

With Nicole and her dark “Goth Days” in high school, I would have expected some hi-jinks from her but she never had any parties. Probably because we were ALWAYS home. She had her moments though, as I have spoken about in another blog. I do recall a prom she went to (or a dance or special event ?) where she drove her date. Not a boyfriend, just a ‘guy’ she knew. She was in a tight fitting dress and had on very high heels and her car broke down under the I-15 and she had to push the car (a large Chrysler)along Sahara Avenue in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t hear about this until the next morning(Like I usually heard about things pertaining to her).


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