As far as I know, my father invented the Birthday Parade. I don’t know when. I was the second and last child and it was an established custom by the time I came along.
The idea is this: the person whose birthday it is stays in bed and waits – not long. The rest of the family gets up a little early, gathers the presents and/or cards and troops in to the bed of the Birthday Child, singing the birthday song. They all sit or perch around while the BC opens the prezzies. Then everybody goes about the day.
That’s all but it’s magic. You KNOW, if you are the BC, that it is YOUR DAY. The universe is in your favour. Even if the day is a disaster, it is mitigated by the fact of your special value. You can shrug off anything with confidence.
During the war (WWTwo, darling), my mother tried hard though it must have been very hard. Every single male relative I had, plus one female, was in the forces, including my brother latterly – he joined up on his 18th birthday, the day after he failed his last exam at university. (He survived and repeated his failed year compensated for by his veteran’s education allowance.)
Anyway, we were all reunited and singing the birthday song again, until I got married. Initially, of course, there were only two of us with no children. I had the first birthday after our wedding and my husband was determined to carry on the tradition. He taped little pennants to pencils, each with a jolly wish (Yea, Birthday Girl; Happy Day; Many Returns, and so on) and stuck a pencil between his fingers –a total of eight for a banner parade.
After we had four children, parades were easy, and the magic continued. Two years after Bill died I moved to Toronto. The girls were both at university, in different locations, outside of Toronto; Matt was in a special residential school; John was still at home for his late September birthday. At 7 a.m. the doorbell rang, once and then again before I got to the door. Liz and Kate had arrived in time for the parade, each coming from a distance, though neither of them had a car. Magic!
I go into history and detail because I am sure other families have traditions that cement them together, and some of you will recall your own.
Happy birthday to all of you. I’m glad you were born, even if I don’t know you or like you. It’s magic.