Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have a Fine Birthday

Thursday sort of caught me by surprise this week! Here's a birthday trip down Memory Lane.

My birthday is September 1st. My maternal great-grandmother's birthday was August 31st. My cousin Scott's birthday is September 2nd and he is my age.

What I'm telling you, here, is that I never got to have a birthday celebration just for me until I was into my early teens.

When Great-Grandma was still alive, we would always have a big reunion for her birthday. Great Grandma lived less than an hour away from us, but it was like visiting a foreign world. We were small-town; she was rural. I loved playing there when I was very young. Their grounds were endless - you could just run and run and run. When I got a little older the charm sort of wore off. Most of my mother's cousins lived right around Great-Grandma. There was a sort of complex, actually, with her old farmhouse at it's hub. They were a big extended family. We were visitors there.

When they would bring out her cake with all of it's candles - 91, 92, 93 - in truth, we didn't know EXACTLY how old Great-Grandma was when she passed away, because she had attempted to erase her date of birth from her birth certificate. She was not a vain woman, by any stretch, so I'm not exactly sure what prompted this, but there it was. We knew she was well into her nineties. You'd think that at SOME point age would become a source of pride - a badge of honor - but not Great-Grandma. She never looked a day older than 88.

In any case, they'd bring out the cake and Mom would sort of push me to the front of the throng of cousins and second cousins and cousins twice removed and tell me to help Great-Grandma blow out her candles since it was my birthday, too.

This would usually result in her saying something like, "Now who's this one?"

"That's Nancy's girl, Grandma."



"Oh. Nancy's girl, y'say?"

"Yes, Grandma. It's her birthday, too."

"Now what do they call her, Nancy's girl?"

"They call her Tame-y, Grandma."

Less than an hour away, but there was a whole different dialect. Believe me. Tame-y was not a nickname anyone would've come up with for me. I had cousins (all sorts of twices and removeds) out there who I called Brine and Dibbie all through my childhood and teens. When I received an invitation to Brian's wedding, I had to think for a moment. I don't know any Brian - oh! - BRINE!!! I guess I don't have to tell you there isn't a birth certificate in my family that reads 'Dibbie', either.

"Tame-y. Well she's just fine."

Just fine was about as much praise as Great-Grandma was gonna dole out. That was pretty high praise, actually.

"Tame-y, you go get you one of those pink lozenges, if you want one."

"No thank you"

"They're right over there, honey - g'won - go."

The same conversation or some reasonable facsimile thereof would occur the following year. And the year after that. I guess when you're at some indetermined place in your nineties and have 'leventy 'leven great-grandchildren it's hard to remember. When you're under ten it's considerably easier.

Then we'd go home and celebrate with my paternal relatives. You know, the side of the family with Scott. At least I KNEW everyone at this party. And they all knew me. This one was all aunts and uncles and first cousins. Most of us lived within a 5-mile radius of my dad's homestead. My dad had only ventured two blocks away. This was OUR complex.

Mom would bake cakes using ideas from her women's magazines. In the early sixties it was a very popular and clever idea to make several large cakes and then cut them into shapes and put those shapes together like puzzles to resemble things and then frost the new shape. Mom loved making those things, because people would say, "Oh, Nancy, you're so clever." Who doesn't like being told they're clever? They always said, "Happy Birthday Tammy and Scott". My name was always first, because I was the elder by twenty-four hours, and because it's always ladies first, and because my mom made the cakes.

I was very satisfied with this until I started going to school and being invited to birthday parties. Whoa. Hold up, here. People get to have parties just for themselves? They don't have to share them with nonagenarians or (gasp) boys? Well this was a fine little howdy-do. Just fine, as my great-grandma would've said.

I started lobbying for my own party in kindergarten, but didn't get one until Jr. High. I was so excited. I mean, just over the top excited. The anticipation was as delicious as the cake my mom would've made for me if I'd wanted a cake - which I DIDN'T, because cakes are for babies (How's THAT for misguided logic?) and I wanted a cool party - would have been.

When the day of the party arrived, I was too nervous and excited to eat.

I just picked at that bowl of plums my dad had left out on the counter.

As my guests started to arrive, I greeted them with the sort of glee reserved for pubescent girls unaccustomed to seeing each other in a non-school setting on a non-school day.

There was much squealing and hugging and jumping up and down.

And they brought PREsents!

I'd always gotten presents from my mom and dad, but the parties I shared with Great-Grandma and Scott were always gift-free.

Guess what excitement plus presents plus a lot of plums equals?

Did you guess?

Do you remember Jr. High math?

Excitement plus presents plus lots of plums equals a birthday girl on the hopper (as Great-Grandma would've said) while her friends party on her brand new deck.

Well that's just fine.


Beth in NC said...

Coming over from SITS. Ha -- the second I read about the plums I thought, "Ut oh." ha. I enjoyed your story.

Have a great day!

Alex the Girl said...

Happy belated. My oldest girl shares your month, Sept. 4th. Ironically, she was born on labor day. Nice joke from the Man, huh? As I was reading this, you had me thinking of all the reunions (other people call them weddings) I've been to. Your story has such a familiar ring to it. My grandmother had 11 children, so I had loads and loads of "cousins." This was a great story...loved being drawn into it.

mzbehavin said...

laughing my ass off!!!!! Happy Belated Birthday..... stay out of the plums!!!!!

Gibby said...

Oh no! NOT GOOD!

Did you grow up in Ohio, or just end up there? Being from Northern Ohio, I was shocked when I went to OU and discovered the Southern Ohio accents. It's almost like there is a literal line drawn a little beyond C-bus where the accents change. One of my good friends was from Caldwell...couldn't understand him for the first two weeks, LOL!

I don't think I wished you a Happy B-day, so here it is...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

First, happy belated birthday! My Uncle Oran turned 90 on Sept. 1. So, you have another to share with.

I know what you mean about the extended family and birthdays. As a kid I had 7 relatives who had birthdays within a few days of mine. Now, me, my daughter and my son all have birthdays within three weeks of each other. Must be genetics?

Anyway, families like that can be funny. I liked the names, to this day I don't know 2 of my aunts real names. They all had nicknames as real names, Short, Fat, Toots, Buzzy, etc.

Stay away from the plums!

Sir Hook the Plum Bobber of Warrick

Badass Geek said...

Oh, how perfect. At least it makes for a good story, right?

Renee said...

Well I hope that you had a great Birthday this time around! Plums are reserved for baking only.

Happy, Happy Year Ahead! And may you have many, many more!

Noah's Mommy said...

first off...happy birthday....and I loved these stories....your great grandma sounded like a hoot...and I can only imagine having to share my mom and uncle had the same birthday...just three years apart...

well's definitely your day!!! no sharing anymore!!!

JennyMac said...


Happy belated bday Tammy!

Sandy said...

I knew it! I knew what was coming....!!!

Brandy said...

Happy (belated) birthday!

"cakes are for babies" - misguided indeed.

Rosa said...

Dibbie, Brine, Tame-y. I can hear the accent in my head! That was a hoot!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! You did such a great job of bringing those memories to life. Happy Birthday!

Cassie said...

Happy Belated Birthday Tame-y.
I have cousins that live an hour or so farther south than me and when I was little I was always amazed at how many syllables they added to words. My cousin Jan's name ended up being Jaaaaaaaaannn.
I love your trips down memory lane keep them coming :o)

Alicia said...

hahaa!! oh no!!! i guess you tend to steer clear of those now!

carma said...

Have you eaten any plums since?

MaryRC said...

happy happy birthday. im a big believer in celebrating the Bdays. I belive in birthday weeks. i love parties and such. my daughter's birthday parties are ridic. my son's were until 2 years ago, we tamed them down. for my 40th im throwing myself a big party at a roller skating rink since nobody will do it for me.

MiMi said...

Happy (late) Birthday, Tammy!!! Tame-y I mean! :)
Love it. Did you make your own plum puddin' in there on that hopper???

Anonymous said...

Dude, my birthday is January 3rd. First, no one has any money left because of Christmas (at least that is what they always tell me) and second it was usually the first or second day back to school after winter vacation and everyone was cranky as heck!

Hit 40 said...

HECK!! I am trapped in Junior High math. I am looking forward to getting out of high school.

Buy your self a wonderful belated birthday cake!! Mrs. Goodmans in Worthington on high street has great cakes.

BONNIE K said...

Hope you had a great birthday this year. Do you still eat plums?

Housewife Savant said...


The Grown-Up Child said...

Hey, happy birthday! That was a cute story. It's so hard to always share your birthday. Mine usually falls either on or within a couple of days of Father's day. But I always liked that. It also isn't someone else's birthday! I always got my own party until I became an adult. Then I was the one suggesting, "Let's do fathers day with my birthday this year." :)

Ginger said...

Happy Birthday!!! (squeal/hug/presents!)

Unknown Mami said...

That's why I stay away from plums.

Happy Belated Birthday!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Happy Belated Birthday!!!!!

This was a great story and your are a great story teller. I laughed out loud and could relate to your grandma! What a hoot.

Thanks for sharing.

scrappysue said...

i'm guessing you grew up somewhere in the south!!! happy birthday for the 1st!!! hope it was a good one

Melissa B. said...

The hopper? My Nana used to say that! Too many plums plus ANYTHING equals a trip to the hopper in my fam...Happy Belated B-day. Hope you receive no plums today!

Pam said...

When I was kid, we didn't have a "real" birthday party every year, either. I can remember 2, to be exact. Somehow I thing that made them more special than today when kids have big blowout parties every year. Even if you do end up spending most the day on the "hopper". LOL! It's certainly memorable.

mama-face said...

Ew. A pink lozenge..haha

Perfect post in every way. This whole scenario would be great in a movie; or maybe you just painted the picture so well I thought I was watching a movie. Sharing a b-day would suck. I hope you've made up for it with your own family!

Did you know we are only 7 months apart in age and that I can bring that up because I am 7 months older than you? I remember the cakes. My b-day is near valentine's Day and my mom made heart shape cakes so many times that I DO NOT like Valentine's Day or pink and red together. I still like heart shapes which is totally illogical. I know. Also, doll cakes. I adored those. The pretty dresses...ah.

Happy Birthday. My daughter's b-day is 09/09/09 this year. Which is pretty cool I think. Gotta come up with something awesome for it. Any ideas?

What a rambling comment. Can I say I would die of happiness if I ever had 28 comments? :-)

Kathy B! said...

That's just not okay :(

My b-day is 3 days after Xmas and the house was always crawling with out of town relatives. We were always "too busy" for a real party.

I think I might have gone overboard on the girls' behalf once or twice to compensate!

Becky said...

You sure can tell a story! I love it!

Well maybe now you can celebrate just for you with your family:)

Happy Birthday! And stay away from the hopper if you can:)

WhisperingWriter said...

Ack, plums.

Nothing good comes from fruit, I tell ya..

Happy belated birthday!

The Redhead Riter said...

I am telepathic and I know something...I know that at 12:01 a.m. on 9/7/09, there will be TWO things for you at my blog ♥

Thanks for being my bloggie friend.

blueviolet said...

Oh no, that's not how it should have ended up at all!