The Half Century Birthday “In”stravaganza Edition
Before I begin with what has turned into a lengthy update, I need to come clean about something. It has been weighing on me more heavily with each passing week of this lockdown. It’s not easy for me to say this, but it is the right thing to do. It is my fault we are all in this situation. Back in September, Oregano asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 50th birthday in April. I told him that I wanted to do something I’ve never done before. I meant spending my birthday with my toes in the sand on a warm beach. To be fair, I have also never been quarantined on my birthday so technically, what I am experiencing qualifies as a bucket list item. I should have been more specific about my birthday wish and now we are all suffering. For this I am deeply sorry.
Phew…. I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.
The pandemic caused us to cancel all the plans we had made to celebrate my milestone birthday at the beach in the South Carolina Low Country. Because social distancing guidelines prohibit dining in restaurants or having gatherings with more than 5 people, coming up with an alternate local celebration was not an option, or so I thought.
Over the past few weeks, Oregano spent an inordinate amount of time holed up in our home office. I figured he was busy with work and when I finally asked him what he was doing, his response was, “I’m working on stuff. People whose birthdays are in the next few weeks shouldn’t ask too many questions.” Apparently, he and my close friends were all scheming to plan a way to make my quarantine birthday an unforgettable day. Boy, did they ever! On one hand I feel incredibly blessed to have a husband and friends who love me so much they went to extreme measures to make sure I felt special. On the other hand, I’m a little concerned about how good they all are at being sneaky.
Oregano started the festivities by telling me that there were a few surprises in store for me and suggested I might enjoy them more while wearing make-up and real clothes. I’m not going to lie. I had quite a bit of trepidation at the thought of wearing pants with a button and a zipper for the first time in 7 weeks. I’m very happy to report that they still fit. It was a birthday miracle!
The first surprise eveeryone had up their collective sleeves was a virtual birthday party and a Vid Hug video message montage. We got to chat for quite awhile then they sang what was simultaneously the best and worst rendition of Happy Birthday ever.
After the virtual party and lunch, Oregano suggested we take advantage of the fact that it was sunny and warm for the first time all week and sit in the front garden. I managed to sit still for all of 5 minutes before the siren call of the weeds lured me from my relaxation. I popped up, grabbed my weeding fork, gloves and bucket. Oregano looked at me incredulously and asked, “You can’t let that go for one afternoon?” I told him I was still enjoying being outside with him and this would get rid of the weeds. I was killing 2 birds with 1 stone. (No birds were harmed. Don’t worry.)
As I worked my way around the garden, I noticed that I couldn’t see through the slats of our small picket fence. I didn’t know what was blocking my view and started poking a finger at the reflective obstruction. Oregano sat snickering behind me and told me to walk around to the front where a big banner was hanging notifying the entire neighborhood of my age. I laughed at how oblivious I was.
Dandelions eradicated, I sat down to read until my asthma flared up from all the pollen. I went into the house to use my inhaler and just as I stepped onto my front porch, I noticed a line of cars coming down the street while honking their horns. I didn’t pay much attention because this had happened earlier in the day because one of my neighbors was also celebrating a birthday. I figured these were more of her guests, but as the cars kept approaching our house, I realized it was a parade of my friends for a drive by birthday party!
After 7 weeks of hearing my friends as disembodied voices on the other end of the phone or as talking heads during video calls it was amazing to see them in 3 dimensions.
It was frustrating to not be able to spend more time with everyone or give them hugs. Then I realized the upside of quarantine birthday parties, I get to see everyone, but I don’t have to share my birthday cake! However, wearing a mask makes it really hard to blow out the birthday candles.
The pandemic has forced people to get creative and improvise with what they have on hand or can find in the few stores that are open. My friends were the embodiment of ingenuity in crisis. One friend decorated her car with a banner made of paper plates, others made signs from boxes supplies ordered online had been shipped in. One friend cranked up her car stereo, got of her car then sang and danced in the street. They managed to create birthday cards or modify whatever cards they could find. They even sanitized the cards and gifts for my protection.
At the end of the day, Oregano was exhausted. He told me that it is very difficult to plan a surprise party and even harder when the person you are surprising never leaves the house. He managed to pull it off though. I might have to toss the guy a few Thin Mints for his efforts.