Archived Story

The ghost of birthdays past

Published 11:46am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I have three days left of being 22 years old.

I won’t subject you to a long, drawn out story of my birth and life and so on and so forth, but maybe bits and pieces will be of interest to someone. It was one of the coldest days in the history of ever, and few people came out to the hospital to meet the baby who was two weeks early.

The doctors said I was going to be a boy. Three cheers for medical technology, huh? I’m sure it’s all improved in the past 23 years, but I still laugh inwardly when soon-to-be-parents proudly announce the gender of their unborn child. I always think, “Yeah, maybe. Maybe not.”

I grew up with a blue room and lots of blue clothes. Maybe that’s why it’s one of my favorite colors, or maybe that’s just a coincidence.

I was named Alison Beth – Alison after a young woman in our church who my parents admired, and Beth after my Granny Betty.

If you Google Dec. 21, 1989, you’ll find the following important happenings:

- Nicolae Ceausescu addressed an assembly of some 110,000 people during the Romanian revolution of 1989

- The United States invaded Panama and ousted General Noriega

- The number one song was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel

- Mark Ingram Jr. – Heisman winner, former UA football player and current New Orleans Saints running back – was born

- Elsie Grffin, a famous British actress and opera singer, died

It’s the 355th day of the year. It’s typically the winter solstice – the first day of winter. Google won’t tell you it’s Alison James’ birthday, but trust me, it is.

Birthday parties were always big for me growing up. Sometimes my gifts got combined with Christmas presents, but I always, always got to have a birthday party. Cookouts and pool parties were out the question, but bowling, sleepovers, Chuck E. Cheese trips and family dinners fill my memories of birthdays past.

One year I had a piñata that just wouldn’t bust.

One year my best friend dropped a bowling ball on her toe and had to go to the emergency room.

One year my father spilled his milk on my homemade cake, and we only rescued half of it.

One year I invited upwards of 30 people and rented out the community center, but only a dozen or so showed up.

My birthdays have never been dull.

This year Dec. 21 means dinner at Niffer’s with my husband and maybe a chocolate cake – assuming, of course, that the world doesn’t end.

I think this is about the time in my life when I’m supposed to start fretting about how old I’m getting and the best years of my life are over, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

The past 23 years have been a rollercoaster that brought me where I am today, and I see no reason to believe the next 23 years will be any less wonderful.

I just hope all those candles don’t set my duplex on fire.

James is a staff writer for The Outlook.