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Celebrating Family Birthdays in 2020

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I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.

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Celebrating Family Birthdays in 2020

We celebrated my son’s birthday on Friday, 23 October 2020.

He ‘s 23 years old now, was born in 1997 in Alabama when I was a student at one of many schools I attended while in the Service. He lives in an apartment here in town while he’s pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Idaho.

On the morning of his birthday I made his favorite cake – Angel Food – and my wife frosted it and decorated it with lemon frosting, which is also his favorite. We bought him some candles for his cake, too, picking up both a 24 pack of the small ones and one each number ‘2’ and number ‘3’. It’s always nice to have on hand both varieties in case someone unexpectedly voices a preference or something.

We also ate Panda Express for lunch that day because it’s one of my son’s favorite places, as well. He likes the Honey Walnut Shrimp; my wife likes the Super Greens; I like the combo with Honey Walnut Shrimp and Teriyaki Chicken. My son drinks the medium Dr. Pepper and I get the freakishly large Coke. We always get an egg roll or two, also, and sometimes we even have the Cream Cheese Rangoon. Today was definitely one of those times. I wish they’d make it a Crab Rangoon instead, but I suppose that’s more expensive and probably doesn’t keep as well, either. In any case, Panda was great and we really enjoyed the meal.

Thing is, though, that we didn’t get to enjoy any of it together. We had to enjoy all of it apart, which made it quite a bit less enjoyable, actually.

We ordered Panda for takeout, packaged up his birthday cake and drove across town to pick up our lunch and deliver all the goods to my son at his apartment. When we stopped in front of his place, and while donning our masks, my wife said, “Oops, we forgot to get his candles.”

We walked up to his second-floor apartment, knocked on the door and handed over our delivery without crossing the threshold. My wife told him we’d be back shortly with candles, to which he nodded assent or agreement or appreciation. In any case, he nodded, and we departed in a bit of a mad dash—for some inexplicable reason—to get to the grocery store and back as quickly as we could.

On our return to my son’s apartment, my wife waited in the car while I donned my mask, ran up the stairs, knocked on the door, and handed over the bag of candles to my son. Once again, I did not cross the threshold, just simply handed over the goods to my boy. As I did, I could see across the room the dining table set for a solo lunch of Panda Express food and drink.

I wished my son a happy birthday again, told him I hoped he had a really good rest of his day, and moved down the stairs as quickly as these old arthritic legs could take me. When I hopped in the car, my bride put it into gear and drove to a vacant church parking lot a few blocks away and parked. There I ate my meal from a Styrofoam box as it sat in my lap. My wife was able to hold her much smaller Super Greens entrée in one hand while consuming it with the other using the provided plastic fork.

While we were dining, our son texted us a picture of his fortune cookie fortune:


We wished him luck on whatever he thought that might be, thinking and suggesting it might be him getting selected for a Fulbright scholarship, for example. He wrote back and said, “It says always, something you’ve always desired,” meaning very literally, I guess, that the Fulbright is just something that came up since he learned about it while in college. It's not something he has always desired.

I sent back to my son a picture of our fortune:


Somehow we only got two fortune cookies with our three entrees, so this was the only one my wife and I had. I ate the cookie myself while we “argued” over whose fortune it should really be for a few moments, and then laughed pretty hard when our son responded, “Hmmm” on seeing the picture of it.

As I was reading his response on my phone, I also noticed that both renditions of "Happy Birthday" I sang and texted to him that morning were gone. I forgot they expired and self-deleted after a time unless you save them. Oh well, there’s always next year, I guess. I am hoping on hope we won’t have to celebrate this same way by then.

"Here comes the snow," my wife said. I looked up to see the flakes drifting down, increasing in size and number every few seconds. The weatherman had been saying all week we were supposed to get nearly half a foot of the white stuff that afternoon for our first snowfall of the year. It was not a particularly welcome sight.

© 2020 greg cain