A few months ago I decided that rather than try to head home to Vermont during the Christmas holidays, I would instead visit for a day far more important to me: my mother’s birthday. It had all the perks: travel before the weather turned to shit, hassle-free travel, cheaper ticket and so on. I booked my tickets and decided that my little venture home for her birthday would also remain a surprise. I told only the essential people and quietly made arrangements. I couldn’t have asked for a better surprise.
I flew in on the red eye from Portland and my little bro picked my weary red eyes (literally) from the airport and drove me home. En route we picked up a fabulous cake I had pre-ordered for the occasion. Once home, we decorated the dining room in pink and blue crepe paper and balloons while my mom was at work. By 4pm, I could no longer will my eyes open and I went upstairs to nap. Tyler woke me up when my mom got home. Since Tyler would have never decorated the downstairs for a birthday (let alone remember a birthday), we had to contrive a story. Since I was always known for decorating, Tyler told my mom that I had insisted he decorate for her birthday and I gave instructions on how to do so. I’d call later that night to ensure he had done a good job. When my mom arrived home, I could hear the surprise in her voice – wondering how Tyler would have managed to make crepe paper look so damn good. Just after she said, “this is something that Beth would have done,” he gave her the story we had rehearsed. A few minutes later, I called the house from my cell phone (which thankfully had 1 bar and got the call through from upstairs). Mom and I talked for a few minutes while I wished her a happy birthday and then my phone dropped the call. Damn! Now what? I could hear her walking towards the mud room at the base of the stairs, so I quietly tip toed down the stairs listening to her talk on the phone (not knowing I had cut out). Then she asked, “are you still there?”. She was in full view of me, but hadn’t yet seen me so I replied (in person), “I’m still here.” Realizing the voice didn’t come from the phone, she looked up to see me smiling at her from the bottom stair. She was in disbelief. We hugged and smiled at each other and all the while she was wondering how I was there, in her house, on the eve of her birthday. It was a perfect surprise.
The night of her birthday, I invited all her gal pals and their respective others over for a birthday dinner. I did a rendition of the “Soup Night” that is a common gathering amongst my friends in Portland. Two soups (a vegan butternut squash soup and a chicken tortilla soup) with a challah bread and autumn salad followed by (wait for it…) a Tahitian vanilla chiffon cake with black raspberry mouse, fresh berries and a white chocolate buttercream frosting for her birthday cake. It was heavenly! I might have over estimated this groups intake of alcohol as the two bottles of champagne I got never got popped. Oh well… they did put down a good amount of wine.
Overall, all the holidays combined will never be as important as my parents birthdays. I was glad to be able to be here to make her feel loved and celebrated.
To my parents and their youthful spirit!