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Saturday, May 25, 2024
Birthday party

Recalling b-day parties past

This Tuesday, I’m joining the big kids and turning 21. While I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do to mark the milestone, it’s proven surprisingly complicated to coordinate a night out on a Tuesday in the midst of a pre-Thanksgiving exam onslaught. My experience figuring out my plans got me thinking about birthdays past. A few highlights from my own parties as well as my friends’ came to mind. So, I’ve made a list of some memories I wanted to share this week. Alright, let’s get this party started!

Craziest party: Rachel’s fifth

For my fifth, my mom packed family, friends and a whole lot of five-year-olds into our house for what proved to be an eventful afternoon. Think cut-throat musical chairs, a glitter-confetti explosion and a fiercely competitive scavenger hunt that resulted in many tears. During the height of chaos, one kindergarten classmate accidentally locked herself in the bathroom—where she stayed, sobbing until my mom rescued her.

Because I was so young, I remember the party in flashbacks, with the most vivid being one of my dad beating open the stubborn pinata with a chair leg. 

Needless to say, we scaled it back for my sixth.

The standby: slumber party

Around age eight, anyone who was anyone on the third-grade scene brought down the house by inviting over a posse of 10 friends for a good-old-fashioned slumber party. 

The term “slumber” could be pretty misleading, though, because a night typically involved setting up sleeping bags then running around wreaking havoc all over the host’s basement until the pizza-soda-cake rush finally wore off. At that point, we’d settle down with that one kid who seemed to conk out before nine at every sleepover and watch 15 minutes of a Mary Kate and Ashley movie before passing out ourselves. Just as the night finally quieted down, homesickness would strike, prompting the party guests to wake the beleaguered parents to send someone home early. 

Most unfun party theme: manners and etiquette

For a friend’s seventh birthday, her family rented out a dimly lit room at our YMCA to throw a party where we celebrated our friend by learning how to behave at other parties. Imagine everything that’s enjoyable at a kid’s birthday—platters of junk food, semi-competitive games, a general sense of carefree fun—and replace it with a lesson in manners and etiquette. Activities included an informative session on the use of the phrase “excuse me” and a scarring encounter in which the birthday’s emcee/schoolmarm accused me of eating too many M&Ms. SORRY I CAME TO PARTY, BRO. 

Coolest/most genius activity: trampoline party

What do kids love to do more than anything? Expel energy until they reach exhaustion then eat a bunch of sugary snacks to recharge. What was on the itinerary for this particular party? Just that. While the rest of us were still lobbying our parents for sleepovers, my friend who was a gymnast had her 11th at the gym. Instead of spending the night running in circles around her living room, we got to bounce off the walls (almost literally) and then call it a day. Her parents let us do exactly what we wanted without having to house a bunch of rowdy kids for a sleepover. Genius.

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Tastiest menu: grandpa’s retirement home

What kind of food? All-you-can-eat brunch. That’s right. The most delicious meal possible.

Before my grandpa moved down to Florida, he lived just a few miles away from me in a swanky retirement home that offered a killer Sunday brunch buffet. Thus, during my teen years, on the Sunday closest to my birthday, the family headed over to Bedford Court senior living community for create-your-own omelets and endless waffles. 

How would you fare in a game of cut-throat musical chairs? Tell Rachel about it over some endless waffles with Grandpa or email

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