Today’s my birthday and it’s a very special day! How do I this? Well, my mom said so, of course (smile). Growing up, Mom told each of us four kids that our birthdays were our ‘own personal holidays.’ And as such, they had some very special traditions attached.

As the birthday girl, I got to choose what the family would have for dinner! In a family of six, believe me, this was a big deal. We named it and Mom would cook it. And everyone else had exactly the same thing. What power! My selection was always Mom’s great pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes. I can still taste the rich brown gravy over the meat and the potatoes that I would mash with my fork. Yummmm.

Cake? Oh yes! And believe it or not, back in the day, my wish wasn’t for chocolate! Oh no. I wanted full-on fluffy, white layer cake with pale pink buttercream roses and little pale green leaves. With the appropriate number of candles, of course. From the BAKERY! The year I turned 13, my mom totally surprised me not only with a party for all of my friends, but also with the most amazing cake ever. Three graduated layers, lots of creamy flowers, and yes, candles, too. My dream cake!!!

The other amazing thing that happened on our birthdays? Mom would say, “It’s your birthday, so you can take the day ‘off’. You don’t even have to go to school if you don’t want to!” Cool, huh? Actually it was a pretty calculated risk on her part since, if it were the weekend, there was no school anyway, and her comment just earned groans. But if the birthday fell on a school day, she knew the LAST thing we wanted was stay home and miss cupcakes with the class. Pretty smart, Mom!

Even now, when I wake up on my birthday, I half expect the phone to ring and hear her say, “Want to take the day off and go play?” I miss you so much Mom, but I’ve carried on your tradition by blocking off my calendar ALL DAY every year on my birthday and reserving it to do something fun, whatever that sounds like at the time.

Today’s my birthday, and it’s been VERY special!