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Friday, December 17, 2010

Eight Maids A-Milking (Boys & Girls Club)

I'm singing this one loud & proud, 'cuz it's Friday, I'm running on minimal sleep, and I might have had a little celebratory drink with lunch:

"Ooooon the eeeeeighth daaaaay of Chriiiiiistmaaaaas, my truuuuuue love gaaaaave to meeeeee...


I am one year older today. I don't feel any older than I did yesterday, let alone any different than I did at age 12. Except my knee hurts, because it's snowing. And I found a completely white hair on my head last week. And I can't stay up past 10 pm anymore. And I nearly pee my pants when I sneeze. But other than that, I feel just like a kid!

Every time my birthday rolls around, I can't help but remember fondly the "olden days", back when we really knew how to party. Since my birthday is so close to Christmas, my Mom always made a concerted effort to give me a birthday celebration that didn't get lost in the shuffle of the busy holiday season. She always made a huge to-do about my big day, bless her kind and thoughtful heart! There were adorable invitations that I excitedly handed out to my girl friends at school. There were beautifully crafted birthday cakes in the shape of a Smurf, a Cowgirl, a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Popple, or the famous hot-air balloon cupcake, painstakingly decorated by my Mom in the wee hours before my birthday. There were huge birthday party shindigs hosted at our house, usually in honor of my friends Mary Jo & Abbey and myself, who all shared birthdays within a few days of each other.

The first of these many sleepovers kicked off in 1st grade, consisting of a group of about eight rowdy, sugar-charged, giggling, squealing 7-year old girls who took over my parents' basement. And I don't believe I fully appreciated the significance of this until I had a giggly little girl of my own. It must have been pure torture for my poor parents! There was a lot of Mountain Dew consumed. I mean a LOT. We ate pizza and Doritos until we could barely move and chatted & gossiped & laughed until milk came out of our noses. Over time the party activities may have changed… from dancing rambunctiously to records at full-blast, to truth-or-dare, to making our own videos, to prank-calling friends (or a teacher or 2!), even cow-tipping (I kid you not), and of course the tried & true "undies in-the-freezer" gag. Aggravated by the sheer racket we created, my dad would storm to the top of the stairs at least three times a night (and usually in his underwear, just to try to embarrass me into shutting up - never worked) to get us to pipe down so the rest of the household could get some sleep. We were such nerds. But WOW, we had a blast and made memories that have withstood the test of time (and increasingly old age)!

Taken at one of the last of these crazy gatherings (my 15th birthday):
Abbey, Buffy, Amber, Shanna Mary Jo, Stacey & Baby Bro Shad
**More pics to come after I get home tonight - I'm digging through my archives for more embarrassing photos.  There is REALLY embarrassing video footage that exists too, but we'll save that for some other day.  Mwah-ha-ha!!!**

We kept up the slumber party tradition with those crazy girls, (though some of the crew came & went for various reason)  year after year, our last one being Freshman year. That's when, sadly, we started to drift our own ways… new groups of friends, new activities, new busy teenage lives.  In short, we grew up.
But I will never forget those birthday parties. Because they gave me something more than a sugar high and a boatload of birthday presents to play with. They gave me an appreciation for the friends that I have in my life. I may not have appreciated them at the time, but after living some life and taking those roads less traveled… I do now. I especially cherish the select few dear ones who have stuck by me and put up with me for coming up on 30 years!!

I am so thankful to have had a happy childhood, where I felt secure and loved and spoiled by my loving family. A family who allowed me to share some great moments with some delightful young ladies whom I still consider friends to this day. Since I was given a strong and healthy home life as a child, I realize the value that unwavering nurturing and loving environment has given me in my adult life. So for those kids who aren't as lucky as I was, to have the stability and character-building that I was given. For those kids who don't have the opportunity to meet the kinds of friends who make you laugh so hard you spray milk out of your nose (aha, there's the "8 Maids a Milking!" - it's a stretch, I know!), friends you can count on through thick and thin and reach out to for support in this crazy world we live in. For those kids who need a friend:

My 8th Day of Christmas donation will go to:

The Boys & Girls Club:

Who provides "A safe place to learn and grow...
Ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals...
Life-enhancing programs and character development experiences...
Hope and opportunity."

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