It should come as no surprise that we don’t do “normal” birthdays. Not because we are fancy, or trying to keep up with Boca’s best who probably buy their 3 yr olds monogrammed ponies for their birthday and have Taylor Swift come to sing happy birthday. They’re just big. Literally. Big family + collecting friends in south florida since the 80s + schoolmates = big.
My daughter’s birthday weekend kicked off with a Friday night Fresh Beat Band Concert.
This would be her THIRD time seeing the band of 30 somethings (no really, one is divorced and one dates Wayne Brady), who play high school music students on a campy Nickelodeon show. She’s probably more dedicated than the hippies who follow Fish with a PH around. The first Fresh Beat concert ended with her in tears when it was over. Tears as if you just told her the Beatles broke up. Inconsolable. Now that she gets that a concert has to have an end, it’s much better. And let me tell you something. These kid concert organizers do not eff around. Right next to the booth where you basically hand them your wallet while your get gouged for $25 glow sticks and light up tambourines, they have a full bar. EFFING GENIUS. It’s much easier to digest the fact that at 37 years old, you know every word and every piece of choreography to every song that always has a moral at the end, with a glass of wine in hand. She loved it and seeing her love it made it all worth it, and made me feel better about the stupid overly expensive glow stick she forgot about 2 mins later.
Then it was Saturday – birthday party day. The birthday party circuit is exhausting when your child is in school. We have had 2 in a weekend and even had to RSVP no to some because there were too many. It’s bananas.
The last couple of years, we have done park parties since there’s no headcount and doing it at a “kid party” place would probably be the equivalent to a down payment on a house with the amount of people included. It’s always worked out great, but it was time to switch things up, so this year, we did a movie party. It. Was. Awesome. It’s surprisingly reasonable to rent out a theater. Who knew???!!?
I’m pretty sure I want to do this every year for the rest of her life. I wonder if they do Bat Mitzvahs.
From the minute the little guests walked in and saw we had the run of our very own theater, it’s like they knew they could go a little crazy. In the 20 minutes before the movie started, they literally ran laps around the theater like dozens of cracked out hamsters in a wheel. They laughed really loud during the movie, had some side convos about the characters’ acting abilities and cinematography, changed seats a billion times, housed bags of popcorn, and probably looked over their shoulder waiting to get shushed by a parent or the movie police, and were equally shocked that it never happened.
Lights came on, we had pizza and cake, and the hamster wheel commenced again.
And then I looked around and thought, Jesus Christ, what the hell am I going to do with all of these pizzas?!?! You see, the pizza man did his magic calculations and he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. And I am NOT good at math so I listened.
Unscrupulous Pizza Man: “How many people ma’m?”
Mathematically challenged me: “I have about 60 – half of which are kids”
Unscrupulous Pizza Man: “Ok we figure 2 slices per kid, 2.5 per adult…beep beep boop boop…you’ll need 20 pies”
Mathematically challenged me: “20?!?!? Let’s not get crazy. I’ll take 17”
Even after everyone ate, and I pulled an Oprah, “You get a pizza! You get a pizza! You get a Pizza!” I still had enough to feed another party. I literally sent at least 5 people home with full, untouched pies and went home myself with about 5. And don’t even get me started on the cake.
Thank god we at least had a round two with the family coming back to open gifts. And I gave away ziploc bags of pizza to my neighbors.
Speaking of family, we had the two NY aunts in town, completing the trifecta known as the Greenberg girls. It’s hard to explain what goes on, but to help put it in perspective, you know all the crazy posts about my mother and her antics? Well, she is the youngest (and most bossy) of three. Yep! There are two more basically just like her, but she has somehow commandeered control. I think they are just tired.
So after everyone left and it was just the sisters, the grandma, my cousin and one of her brood and us, the real party began. It always starts with some form of dancing or singing that my mother desperately tries to turn into a game, but everyone thwarts her suggestions. There’s lip syncing, Michael Jackson impersonations, twerking (mostly my mother), the Wobble, and it always ends with someone almost peeing their pants (always a member of the trifecta, just never know who it’s gonna be).
I also always learn something new from my mother. This time it was a photo trick and it “makes you look 50” so my mom is all about it. It goes something like this. You stand next to your friend and you subtly place your hand behind their neck. When the photographer does the obligatory count down, you yank the skin to perform an instant, yet temporary surgical-like procedure pulling the neck-fat tight. Apparently this is a thing. So my mom demonstrated on her sisters, everyone took turns and this probably ended with someone wetting their pants too.
Everyone went home with bellies full of pizza and cake and pizza and cake. And I cleaned real wine and cheez its off my couch.
Oh but wait kids, it ain’t over. Because the very next day is Grandma Esta’s (that’s not a typo – it’s the long island, jewish iteration of “Esther”) 92nd birthday celebration. Aside from birthing three awesomely crazy sisters, my grandma is the best person on the planet. And one hell of a lucky woman with 7 grandchildren and FIFTEEN great-grandchildren. So naturally, my mom hosted a small lunch at her house and ordered from a place that didn’t purposely sabotage our food with twistie ties as with past events.
Everyone was dolled up, including Piglet, much to my brother’s dismay and looming disapproval. She even tried for some good old fashioned collusion prior to the shindig.
My brother took one look…asked, “What the hell is this?” My mother immediately yelled her rehearsed response, “It’s a flea skirt!”. He wasn’t buying it. Picked up the dog, promptly removed the skirt and went back in his lair to watch the Phins game.
And no event at my mother’s is complete without a trip down memory lane talking about “The Skirt”. Here’s the abridged version. My mom wanted to start sewing. My gram bought her a sewing machine for Chanukkah like 10 years ago and she got to work sewing a denim skirt. It came out too small so she added a couple of panels. She tells the story, always changing the amount of time that has passed.
“A few years ago my mother bought me a sewing machine.”
“How many mom?”
It’s not three, it’s 10, but she never says 10. It’s either 3, 4 or 5.
And then she does the reveal and undoes the skirt. It literally looks like she’s in a drastic weight loss infomercial as the “after” model holding up a skirt that a family of four could fit in all at the same time.
And then she drones on and on about how she’s going to finish it and we are all going to be jealous and ask to borrow it. And she also marvels at her zipper work. Every time. I can’t tell you the last time we had a family gathering without an episode of “The Skirt.” Funny thing is, it never gets old.
So that’s basically how we do birthdays in my family. And bar mitzvahs, and weddings, and pretty much any event when we are together. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way.