Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: A birthday and a half!

Introduction by Melissa Amster

After over two years of talking via e-mail, text, and Skype, I finally got to meet our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, in person! To say she is exactly as she comes off online is an understatement because she's even MORE wonderful in person! We had such a great time chatting and it was like old friends meeting up for a reunion. We both brought our families along, so it was a fun crowd of 10. Jen and her husband are so cute and sweet together. Her kids are very nice, which is to be expected from two great people. Her younger son won over my three year-old daughter almost instantly. Her daughter brought presents for my kids, the ones for my sons being from her own collection of toys. And her older son is as charming as can be, so it's no wonder he has been employee of the month at his job twice already. Needless to say, it was a wonderful meet-up and I hope we can have more of them in the future. I miss her already!

In honor of birthday month, Jen is here to talk about half birthdays. Interestingly enough, her birthday is 10 days before my half birthday and my birthday is 10 days after her half birthday. Just some fun trivia for you!

Half the Birthday, Twice the Fun!

I love my birthday. I celebrate it 364 days a year, so gifts are never tardy, and there’s a reason for daily cake intake. I know not everyone has warm fuzzies about blowing candles out from year-to-year; I totally respect that. Birthdays are not everyone’s Pin the Tail on the Donkey. For this Capricorn, they are golden.

I remember the year I decided it was time to celebrate half birthdays. Mine, of course. It was the summer of 1977 and I’d been enjoying two weeks of vacation at my grandparents’ home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I’m not sure how the epiphany arrived inside my six-year-old-brain, yet I felt like it was a wonderful moment of clarity. I remember bouncing into the kitchen for breakfast (I’ve always been a morning person) and announcing to my grandmother, whose curlers were still pinned in her locks, “I think we need a party!”

Time to celebrate!
The conversation that followed is foggy. Once I made my half birthday celebration proclamation, I recall laughter from her, and my grandfather snickering too while he read the sports section of the paper in his boxer shorts. My guest list was short and sweet; my grandparents couldn’t miss this event along with several of the children living in the neighborhood I’d become friends with over the years. Carefully, I considered menu options. Since processed foods and sugared, day-glow beverages were all the rage then, I opted for Hawaiian Punch and Cheetos. This was high class! Hurriedly, I threw on clothes and ran down the street, knocking on a neighbor’s front door at an ungodly early hour of summer. When Karen and her sister Kristy came to the door, I told them I was having a birthday party and they were invited. I seem to recall a conversation about gifts. And if memory serves, I’m positive I declared presents mandatory.

Dixie cups were filled with lip staining drinks, paper napkins held perfectly proportioned Cheetos servings, and Grandma let me wear her coral lipstick. It was party time! The doorbell rang and I ran to welcome my guests. I ushered them towards the table. My agenda dictated we move quickly from snacks to gifts.

I remember Karen’s little sister, Kristy, handing me a weathered, brown lunch sack. I quickly peeled back the crumpled paper, scrambling to get to the opening. I vividly remember my eyes looking inside and seeing something prized and cherished. Kristy’s one and only Barbie doll. I wrinkled my nose and knew this gift was not for keeps. Even at the ripe old age of 6 and a half years, I felt guilty my acquisition of Barbie’s was immense and Kristy’s was a collection of one. She gifted it wearing a sincere smile on her face. I took Barbie out of the bag and told the girls to follow me up to my room to play. Digging through my Barbie paraphernalia, I found a dress that my grandmother had lovingly stitched. Grandma frequently made little outfits for my dolls with leftover fabric. I stripped Barbie down to her skivvies and snapped the yellow sundress around her figure. I brushed her golden main, gave her one final inspection, and then handed Barbie back to Kristy. “I forgot to tell you that when you come to my party, you get a new dress for your doll. That’s the gift.”

Where's our cake?!?
I remember playing with Karen and Kristy for many years. As I became older, we spent less and less time together. When I turned eleven, they no longer ran down to visit the moment they recognized my parents’ car parked in the driveway. I stopped anxiously knocking on their door once my teen years arrived. My grandparents downsized, selling their modest home in the mid 1980’s and I never saw the girls again. Yet I do remember this. Kristy gave me a token on that half birthday I cherish to this day. She set an example to me of giving selflessly. She gifted me again as her face lit up receiving a new dress for her doll freshly returned into her small hands. I’m no longer big on busting out a piƱata on my half birthday. They seem so unnecessary when you’re willing to blow out candles and make wishes at a moment’s notice any day of the year, don’t they?

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.

No comments: