The Suitcase Lady


December 28, 2008, 10:29 pm

Having a birthday on New Years Eve is no picnic. Restaurant prices are inflated, drunks fill the roads, everyone is sick of buying presents and the weather is atrocious.

But one memorable year when I was a young mother, my birthday was a picnic – literally. My husband and kids cranked up the thermostat, dressed in shorts and sandals, moved back the living room furniture and spread out our picnic sheet in the middle of the room. We all sat around feasting on our favorite summer picnic foods… tuna sandwiches, potato chips and raw vegetables. The sheet kept the cake crumbs moderately contained.

The years passed and our family scattered, mostly to the southwest. I realized that the perfect cure for a winter birthday was within grasp. Money was no longer as tight, and I could leave the birthday blizzards behind.

My dear mother-in-law in Tucson gave me a birthday party for many, many years. She had finally figured out that my favorite color was not brown. Therefore the kitchen table in her trailer sported her best Vera designed tablecloth covered with purple violets. Everything she cooked tasted wonderful, and her cakes were legendary. She pegged me as an angel food type.

I wish these birthdays could have lasted forever, but, as Robert Frost noted, “nothing gold can stay”. So here’s fair warning to my family and friends in warm climates… don’t be surprised if you find me on your doorstep on December 31.

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