This topic is revisited annually. Why? Well, it happens every year, and as long as it keeps happening all is well with the Geezer.
New Years Day is my birthday. “Ah,” say many of those who first learn of this, “your parents were lucky.”
Those who make this type of observation usually envision front-page news stories and tons of presents showered by various businesses seeking some free advertising on the mother and father of the first child born every year. Even medical folks get into the act. Parents of the first child born at one of the major area hospitals this year got extra diapers and gift cards good at a local restaurant and movie theater from the hospital staff.
|Note the hairline resemblance|
It didn’t work that way for my parents. I didn’t appear until about 7 p.m. on Jan. 1. A half-dozen babies were born earlier on New Years Day that year in my hometown. The prizes and gifts were long gone when I arrived.
Sympathizers then sometimes remark that at least my coming gave old Dad another income tax exemption. That didn’t work, either. At the time, toward the end of the Great Depression, Dad didn’t earn enough to have any income tax liability.
The timing of my birth was not only financially disappointing; it ended a family tradition that might have provided the Klade clan some measure of fame. My father, Fred J. Klade, was born on Christmas Day, 1891, in Wausau, WI. His father, Fred C. Klade, was born on Christmas Day, 1855, in Germany. We don’t know the birth date of my great-grandfather or previous male ancestors. Had I appeared as “scheduled,” it would definitely have been three Christmas boys in a row, with a slim possibility of four or more. My mother said I was too stubborn to conform to the family pattern.
In tough times, a holiday season birthday can be a distinct disadvantage. A good number of my father’s Christmas presents were labeled “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.” The gift givers cut their costs in half, but Dad’s gift-receiving pleasure suffered equally, although he never complained. In better economic times, there apparently is no problem. I have yet to receive a single gift or card in honor of both Christmas and my birthday.
The lasting advantage of my “1/1” birth date is that friends find it very easy to remember, and good things happen because they do. This year was no exception. Once again, my birthday celebration started with congratulations via e-mail from Jake Jirschele, a high school pal I haven’t seen for some 50 years. After many years of mystery as to how Jake knew my birth date, he admitted remembering it from a conversation in a bar in 1955! (see the Jan. 6, 2011 post, “The Consistent Mystery Every New Years Day,” in the archives).
Shortly after reading Jake’s annual message, the Geezer was treated to a telephone call that began with a “Happy Birthday to you” song accompanied by some giggles and chuckles. The song leader was Jim Shea, another chum from long ago who I haven’t seen for many years. He recalled visiting our house on Christmases past to partake of some “shaum tort,” a special dessert whipped up (literally) by my Mom in honor of Dad’s birthday. Jim remembered both of the notable Klade birthdays, and quite a few other events from years gone by. His call was among the many things that made my 2012 birthday something special.
I also finally cashed in with a special first-day gift from a business. Denny’s restaurants e-mailed a coupon good for a free birthday breakfast. Nothing pleases me more than an occasional escape from healthy fare in favor or a good old American breakfast featuring lots of fried, high-calorie stuff. Denny’s does that sort of meal well.
Soon after beautiful wife Sandy and I settled into a booth at Denny’s a gray haired couple somewhat older than me (and that’s pretty old!) sat down in an adjacent booth. The man exchanged a hearty “Happy New Year” greeting with the waitress. The two chatted pleasantly throughout their meal. I noticed the waitress bringing a plate of pancakes to their table.
As I was checking out, the elderly couple stood close to me waiting their turn. They were all smiles and exchanged pleasantries with everybody in the area. Sandy waited nearby while I made a restroom stop after I settled our bill. The couple had gone when I returned. “I heard what their bill was,” Sandy said when we were in our car. “They paid $4.24 for two breakfasts. The cashier confirmed the statement with the man. I heard the old gent say he had two pancakes, and the lady had one. They had nothing else but water.”
We’re guessing of course, but we both got the impression that the elderly couple was starting their new year treating each other to a restaurant meal they could barely afford. They did it with dignity and good cheer. Just seeing them made our morning more pleasant. They reminded us that material wealth is not necessary to create a celebration
May 2012 will be a happy year for you, full of the little pleasures that really matter.