As I have done every year for over 50 years.
It sparked a memory . . .
|Maybe he should have wrapped up some teeth . . .|
In the Stringam family, birthdays were always exciting.
Family. Good food. Cake.
My fourth had been truly memorable, with a little barn fire thrown in for . . . umm . . . excitement.
But my eighth was memorable for two other reasons.
Let me explain . . .
It began ordinarily enough, with Mom's wonderful breakfast and good wishes all around.
Dad had gone into the city, on ranch business, and wasn't expected back until later--when us kids got home from school.
But that was okay, because I knew that my real birthday, complete with birthday food and cake and the all important presents wouldn't happen until supper time.
I went through the day with high anticipation.
I'm sure my teachers tried mightily to teach me something that day, but who can compete with birthday supper and cake?
By supper time, I had worked myself into a rare mood.
Mom made my favourite.
With meat balls.
Then the cake. Again my favorite - Angel food. With fluffy seven-minute frosting.
I should point out that the name of the frosting had to do with how long it took to make it.
Because it certainly didn't describe how long it took to eat it.
But I digress . . .
And then that moment.
The time I had been anticipating for an entire year.
When the wrapped boxes came out and were given the place of honour.
Right in front of me.
The first one was rather . . . book sized.
I tore into the colourful paper eagerly.
I should explain, here, that I had fallen in love with reading in the first grade, at the age of six.
Dr. Seuss had introduced me to world of books and I hadn't looked back.
By the time I was eight, I had graduated to the next step.
And here, on my birthday, I was suddenly holding the greatest treasure I had ever seen.
Nancy Drew. The Secret in the Old Attic.
A chapter book.
All my own.
My world had just gotten bigger.
Then there was more.
A large, rectangular package.
Reluctantly and reverently, I set down my precious new book.
And ripped into my other present.
The wrapping came off easily.
Revealing . . . Lego.
What on earth was that?
I stared at the package.
Everyone stared at the package.
My father was well known for finding the new and the wondrous.
He didn't fail here.
I opened the box and poured out a stream of little red, white and blue blocks.
Of varying sizes and shapes.
I unfolded the brightly-coloured instruction sheet.
And my world got bigger, still.
I needn't tell you that my Nancy Drew collection expanded to include every volume ever written.
Or that Lego became a large part of the Stringam world that day.
And that a major part of playtime, for three generations now, consists of amazing feats of construction with myriad colourful blocks.
I only need to tell you that everything began on my eighth birthday.