As a kid, birthdays were all about the sparkly stuff. After spending the day going to the movies, hanging out with our little friends and watching movies, Mom and Dad would take my sister and me to Red Lobster. There we would dine on cheesy bread (mmm, cheesy bread!), popcorn shrimp and Shirley Temples before heading to a nearby Toys ‘R’ Us.
And that’s when the real fun began.
Katie and I were born three years and five days apart and, in typical sisterly fashion, we did everything together — including our birthday celebrations. My big day is July 18, while hers is July 23 — and we’ve had no trouble sharing our celebrations. (Well, except for the year my sister got her own Mickey Mouse birthday cake, while I had to share with she and my father, who was born on July 19 — and I was enraged. Um, but I got over it. Sure.)
Our Toys ‘R’ Us shopping sprees were the highlight of our year. With $50 in hand, we soared through the aisles with Dad shouting, “Supermarket sweeeeeep!” at the top of his lungs. We were frantic, taking in everything our little hands could possibly grab. Of course, the trip was a math lesson, too; with the $50 each, we had to make sure we were getting the perfect amount of merchandise for our money. And, you know, not going over. (I wasn’t always too great with that part, and Katie was worse.)
I remember the year I got a sparkly cupcake doll — the doll was encased in a “scented” rubber cupcake bottom, and would pop up — and a sky dancer. The tiny pink girl would spin on colorful wings, shooting off into the sky. No matter what we picked up, Katie and I would get the same toys — just in different colors. Since we played together for hours and hours every day through our childhood, we had to have the same toys to do the same things. It used to irk me, growing up, all that togetherness — having to choose the same items. But now I find it sweet. Now? I miss it.
Life has changed dramatically in the 15 years since I last wandered the hallowed halls of an overflowing toy store. It’s hard for me to imagine anything being as exciting as loading fresh toys into that cart, my mom and dad smiling down at me. I’ve experienced so much as I sit here on this, my 25th birthday, and I know that so many exciting things are yet to come. I’m eager and happy; I’m ready for all of them.
Even if birthdays don’t come with My Little Ponies anymore.
Congratulations to Lara, the winner of my birthday book giveaway! She’s been emailed. Thanks to all 83 of the entrants — I loved hearing about your favorite birthday gifts! I was surprised, too, to learn that many of them weren’t material . . . like Robby, who answered a hug from his mom. I’m all verklempt.