Most Minor Minion is another year older today. It’s very strange to be at this stage of life where I’m not right there celebrating with him. After years of parties, family gatherings, and other special events for such celebrations, being miles apart just seems so… odd.
It started when Spawn moved out and eventually got married. There were no gifts piled on the piano with the bow-codes for “morning gift” and “most important” for her that year and it was strange. I think she may have thought the same thing when she came over for dinner, because, well, she wasn’t there for a morning gift, and she was grown up. Right?
But the gifts on the piano were a tradition as was the wrapping. It was always the same; the morning gift consisted of magazines or a book and wrapped but with no bow. The others would have simple bows, and the Most Important gift would have the biggest, brightest, bestest, most goodest bow of all on it.
When they were young, the offspring would gather around the display of gifts (there were almost always seven of them) and torment themselves over what treasures were contained within the wrapping paper. Their father (bless his heart) would do the wrapping because I loathe doing such a thing, and always he would ask the birthday person, “Do you want me to bring them out one at a time, or all at once?”
Most of the time they would choose the one-at-a-time routine, letting the anticipation build while giving them time to ponder each present so nicely wrapped. They were not allowed to shake, poke, or pick up any gift until their birthday (the gifts were generally brought out the night before, because we’re kind of mean that way) so the effect was heightened.
The next morning, the first gift would be opened and the reading material perused over breakfast. On school days, it was hard to put down the goodies and go to school, but when they got home, those presents would still be sitting on the piano, waiting for dad to arrive after work. Then we’d have dinner and the gifts would be opened.
Dessert would be something of the honoree’s choice, as not all of us liked cake. But, for those who did, we’d get something from the local grocery store bakeshop, and for some reason, my ex would invariably forget that the plastic tray on the bottom was slippery and he’d drop the damn cake somewhere between lighting the candles and singing Happy Birthday. Or he’d wait until we had all had a piece before he’d return the confection to the kitchen and dump it on the floor.
I would remind him, “take it off the tray, please,” and he would ignore my dire warnings and dump the cake.
It became as much a family joke as his selection of videos to rent for family video night. Oh, let me tell you of the Weeping Camel, or War of the Planets, or, oh, god, that one where they were fighting a war on Pluto and one of the characters (a woman) was telling another character (a man) that she really liked his gun, right before taking off her shirt and jumping his bones.
My ex is a good guy. He brought good traditions into my life and the lives of our children. I appreciate that a great deal, even though right now, I feel like I’m missing something. Maybe I should wad up some gift wrap and throw a cake on the floor, then watch a really bad movie.