Every family has their unique traditions concerning special events and how they are observed. One of those very important traditions as I was growing up was the birthday dinner.
Our family was a large one. I was one of five kids and we believed in the inclusion of extended family. After all, I grew up next door to my grandparents! Large clans like ours didn’t go out to dinner. We ate at home. This wasn’t a bad thing, as my Mom was a great cook. However, even eating at home took on a whole new meaning when it came to birthdays. You see, the birthday person got to choose ANYTHING they wanted for their birthday dinner!
I always had a hard time choosing between my three favorites: fried chicken, fried shrimp and spaghetti. It was a difficult choice and varied from year to year. The dessert was often angel food cake with that lovely, sticky 7-minute frosting. As I got older, it became Mom’s made-from-scratch German chocolate cake.
This came to mind as I looked through some photos recently and noted one of my birthday photos. It was a picture of me at the dinner table wearing a homemade birthday hat that I’d created for myself. On the table in front of me was a plate empty of everything but a pile of shrimp tails and a bottle of Nehi Grape soda. In case you couldn’t read the flavor on the bottle, you’d be able to tell because of the tell-tale grape “mustache” I was wearing!
The birthday dinner tradition lives on with my own kids. One of the most frequent requests is lasagna, garlic bread and cheesecake for dessert. Dad’s BBQ is pretty popular, too. My kids dislike store bought desserts immensely and rather than cake, most often choose pie of some sort. We’re a pie kind of family, you know.
Even though I’m 45 years old, the birthday dinner tradition is still alive and well. My Mama still cooks for me on a day close to my birthday. Although I don’t always choose the same things I did when I was a kid, it’s pretty close. This year instead of fried shrimp I requested a low country boil. Not only did I get shrimp, but, I got crab legs, too!
Traditions are great for everything except the waistline…