Birthdays in the time of COVID-19

Actually, this is Birthdays in the Time of Always but I am in a groove here

Birthday card

Even though I live in Wisconsin now only because I was tricked, my people are from here.

You know the story, right? Have I told you? My family is from here, but my dad was in the air force, so I grew up outside of Wisconsin, in Spain, Texas, and Panama. The only time I lived in Wisconsin as a kid was the year my dad was in Vietnam.

I was living in Memphis when I met Mr T. He was living in Milwaukee. Why was he in Milwaukee? Because he didn’t want to live in California anymore but also did not want to move back to Pittsburgh, where he grew up, because – well, if you’ve read the Old Blog, you know.

He had been to Milwaukee to see a baseball game in the old stadium before they tore it down. He liked it here and moved here.

We met at our 20 year college reunion in Houston.

And – in the battle over where to live, he won.

A lot of it was that he was living in an apartment at the time, an apartment where the heat was included with the rent, there was an attached, heated garage, and someone else did the shoveling.

As in – I got an absolutely unrealistic picture of winter.

When you live in your own house, you pay your own heating bills, which means you keep your house really really cold unless you are rich which we are not.

When you live in your own house, unless you are in deep suburbia, you have a detached garage, which means that to get to the car, you have to go Outside. Which means The Icy Driveway of Death and the Icicles of Damocles and all that that entails.

When you live in your own house, you have to shovel the driveway (well, you don’t have to, but if you want to use the car, it’s an important first step) and the sidewalk (this you have to do – it’s the law).


I digress.

I now live here. My people are from here.

(But still – the second Mr T is dead, I am throwing away all of his crap in the basement, taking the cats, and going south. This place is gorgeous in the summer, but I hate winter. Also, I am getting really really tired of being in the national news all the time for stupid things.)

And My People Do Not Waste.

We have never wasted.

My grandmother almost never had anything to put in the trash.

She didn’t throw food away, ever. EVER. If there was food that humans couldn’t or wouldn’t eat, she gave it to the neighbor’s dog.

She saved her recycling and would carry it to the recycling center on her walk every morning. The walk she took when she woke up at 6 a.m. and walked to early Mass, then to the post office to get her mail, then to the senior center, where she would sometimes play a hand of Sheepshead or two.

Some plastic isn’t recyclable – the bags frozen vegetables come in, for instance. So she would carefully cut those bags open, then would save the bags for re-use. A person would think the bag of frozen corn in the downstairs freezer actually contained frozen corn but a person would be tricked if a person did not look carefully and see the label of “rhubarb, 1992.”

Cool Whip containers in the freezer also did not always contain Cool Whip.

My grandmother was sneaky that way.

This is my history.

These are my people.

So a few years ago, when I was visiting my mom and saw the birthday card in the photo above, I got it immediately.

My mom and her sisters have been sending each other the same card back and forth for a few years.

Which honestly?


I hate buying birthday (and other event) cards.

First, I hate wading through the stupid syrupy sentimental crap that’s out there.

Second, I hate paying $5 for a card. That’s a lot of money. I see that and I think, Sheesh for that much money, I should just call someone. A phone call is cheaper.

And then I think, But really what I am paying for is not to have to talk on the phone, which is one of my least favorite things in the world.

So – reusing a birthday card?


So I was very impressed with my mom and my aunts.

And I went on facebook to say so.

And discovered that My People really are My People all the way back, because my Aunt Mary said, “That tradition started with our aunts on our Dad’s side. We come from good stock. 😄”

Oh man we sure do.

I suggested to my sister that we carry on the tradition.

Sister: Sounds good to me. Problem is, I’m terrible about getting the card into the mail. Can I steal the envelope from the store?

Me: You could just take a photo and email it.

Sister: Now THAT would be right up my alley.

I think we will carry on the spirit of the tradition just fine.



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