December 1st, was Teta's birthday. I would know since I handle most, if not all, her medical matters and I am always asked what the birth date is. 12/1/19xx I say with confidence now, when once I used to hesitate and stutter. Yes, there was once a time when I did not know my mom's birthday, or my dad's.
Growing up we never put a lot of emphasis on birthdays. We celebrated mine and my sister's randomly at best, and with a little fanfare at most. I do remember some birthdays shared with cousins either at a local attraction the equivalent of McDonald's these days or at my cousin's house. Some years there was cake at school. But rarely did we have a "party" at our house. It was only during my teenage years where I could plan, fund and produce my own parties that I have vivid memories of having them; it was my sixteenth and my eighteenth that I recall best of all. After that, birthday dinners were the rage and we followed suit.
I don't ever recall celebrating my parent's though. I don't even know why. My aunts and uncles celebrated theirs so it was unique to us that we didn't. We were even questioned about it, "what are you doing for your mom's birthday?" We would respond with an empty look, "nothing." We didn't even buy them cake, let alone gifts. I guess they didn't care, so neither did we.
Then they moved to the US where every occasion is celebrated. It's a Hallmark culture with a card for everything you could think of. So, we started a new tradition, albeit hesitantly at first. In the early years I would rely on my aunt from Beirut to remind me of my mom's birthday. She would be on the phone and ask what we were doing or what am I buying. That would jolt my memory and entice me to actually do something. That something would either be a cake, a coffee and dessert date, a casual dinner or a gift. Sometimes it was a combination of an outing and a gift. Sometimes my sister would pitch in the idea of what to get her and some times I would be on my own. A coat, some shoes, a new purse, a Starbucks gift card, a facial, or some year nothing at all.
This year we celebrated with a view, a breakfast buffet, lotions and a new hat. But the biggest gift was the company. With us in Ifrane, my mom turned a new age all by herself last year. This year, however, she made up the difference. John and Susan, Yousef and Jannah-Rae, Jeff and I, and my dad were all seated around a table in the Concierge Lounge overlooking the National Mall. Originally our plan was to go to a local favorite for breakfast but when we saw the view from the hotel we were staying at we changed plans. Smoked salmon, imported cheese and cheap coffee were part of our meal, and so was good conversation and hugs and kisses. We didn't sing "Happy Birthday" but let the song hang in the air above us. Jannah-Rae had made her a card and Yousef sat in her lap.
Soon it was time to go; we had a story time to catch and my mom had to get to work. It turned out to be a gorgeous December day. With the temperature in the mid-70's and no breeze, we all spent hours outside. My mom enjoyed her pre clock-in and post clock-out walk and the kids and us took a long walk and played outside as much as we could. Then the sun set on another day.
Happy Birthday Mom. Here's to many more!