At this very moment, I’m celebrating my 25th birthday in Germany with my mom, probably drinking fabulous beer (bier) out of a stein. But I prepared in advance a little snapshot of my birthday memories from over the years – here’s a trip down memory lane through 25 of my favorite moments from 25 years and 25 birthdays.
1. White cake with lemon filling. Always had it for my birthday, still love it. I think it’s a southern thing because most of my friends in Ohio had never had it until my mom made it (complete with the top layer sliding off one year).
2. My fifth birthday – the first time I received a gift from my Dad – a pair of ruby slippers. He already knew of my love affair with The Wizard of Oz. Also the year the cake had a Wizard of Oz theme on it.
3. The creation of my “other birthday” on July 3, 2001: the day I was officially adopted by my Dad and became Jenna Sauber.
4. My 7th birthday. My parents got me a dictionary and origami. I still have the dictionary – one of the best gifts I have ever received.
5. My 18th birthday: my aunt and uncle drove up from Louisiana to surprise me. I got of the bus, saw the beloved (and now gone) black Jeep Grand Cherokee in the driveway and almost broke down the door to get inside.
6. My 21st birthday: a weekend-long experience (perfect for college and that monumental age!) that included dinner with my parents, a night out with close friends, and a party thrown for me on the final night.
7. My 2nd birthday: I don’t remember it, but a video tape shows me screaming and crying when I was given a giant stuffed bear. Hilarious to watch now. Maybe it had to do with who it came from…I won’t go there.
8. My 11th birthday: My golden birthday. I probably was still getting the day off of school back then. Mom gave me a golden charm with 11th birthday on it, that her sister had given to her on her 11th birthday. (Same aunt from #5)
9. My 22nd birthday when my boyfriend Dan threw me a surprise party at his apartment after a nice dinner out. And then he gave me perfume and these awesome Texas Longhorn shorts.
10. My 24th birthday: my parents sent me a giant box filled with stuff from my Amazon wish list – it literally arrived on my birthday. What more could a girl ask for than a DVD box sets of Sinatra and Poitier movies, and a bunch of books?
11. Possibly my 11th birthday again: I got my first computer, and a new desk to put it on. I remember coming home from the grocery store with mom and my dad sitting in my room grinning, waiting for me to walk in. The screensaver said “Happy birthday and Merry Christmas!!” My first program installations were Creative Writer and Operation Neptune.
Enough birthday memories…I’m running low on memory…on to other lovely memories over the years…
12. My first trip to Europe, the summer before sixth grade. My parents and I went to France, Germany and Austria. We hiked, we saw Dachau, Eagle’s Nest, and it was my first time playing foosball. I also enjoyed some of the best apple strudel ever known to mankind, and some ridiculously bad for you but amazing butter-filled soft pretzels. I fell in love with down comforters.
13. Getting Rocky, our first dog, from the pound in Austin. Such a great dog.
14. Bringing home Harrison, and then Casey 12 years ago. Those two little corgis became my brothers.
15. The last trip to Panama City with my mom’s family. It was my grandfather’s last hurrah before he passed away. That was more than 15 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
16. The time my dad and I built a computer game for a school project. We even made business cards for me. Best. Project. Ever.
17. The time my dad accidentally left the plastic carpet cover upside down on the rug in the entry way and my mom stepped right on to it in bare feet. Painful for her I’m sure, but hilarious to us. You had to be there.
18. The time I tripped over Harrison on the stairs and went tumbling head over heels, coming to a crash at the bottom. My dad’s reaction: “Be careful, Jen, or you’ll hurt the dog!” Another one of those where you had to be there.
19. Watching my grandfather and mom make pralines together. Just one of those moments you never forget.
20. Learning to sew with my grandmother on her machine, and listening to her tell stories and gab with her sister all day as they quilted. My cousin and I could sit there for hours.
21. Picking figs off the tree at Aunt Kay’s, cracking pecans at my grandparents’, and busting into fresh boiled crabs every Christmas or crawfish in the summers in Louisiana.
22. Making Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my parents. We each contribute, and that’s why it’s amazing.
23. My parents dropping me off at college. I thought I had never cried so hard.
24. My parents dropping me off in Washington, DC. I cried even harder.
25. The bag of dimes I received the day I was born from my grandparents. A tradition I may start with my own grandchildren some day.