Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Babies

by Susan Sey

So my dad's birthday is the day after Christmas. I realize this isn't ideal timing, from a kid's perspective. The gift budget has just been blown & nobody has the appetite for another celebration. Plus all your friends are out of town visiting Grandma & Grandpa, & nobody could come to a party even if you were able to have one.

In recent years, however, this bummer birthday has transformed itself.

Now my dad is a grandpa & so are all his friends. Now the grandbabies (and the sons & daughters who are responsible for them) come to him for the holidays. And his birthday has become the biggest celebration of the year in our family.

Everybody's here, the presents have been opened, the holiday celebrated. Everybody has the extra day off work, his friends no longer have Grandma/Grandpa obligations. Now they are the grandmas & grandpas, & they're all looking for a way to extend the holiday mood.

What better way to do that than at a birthday party?

In years past, we've had nearly a hundred people cycle through this party. Everybody from long-long relatives to friends from three neighborhoods ago have turned up to have a slice of cake & toast my dad into another year.

It's a miracle of sorts, isn't it? An immense disappointment has turned into a joyful celebration, transformed by nothing but the power of time & patience.

What about you? Have you ever been transformed by time or patience? Had your endurance rewarded with a fresh, healing perspective? Looked with new eyes on an old hurt & found something new?

Oh & before I forget--Happy birthday, Dad. You're the best. xoxoxo


flchen1 said...

Happy birthday, Susan's Dad!

flchen1 said...

Wow, thanks for the fresh perspective on a positive outcome from a holiday birthday! And all the very best to your dad! What a fabulous time he must have now, enjoying the festivities!

Such a neat reminder that something can ultimately be transformed into something not only survivable but actually marvelous! Maybe a little like those years of piano lessons that my whole family had to endure... ;)

Helen said...

Congrats Fedora have fun with him

Happy birthday to your Dad it is so good that he can celebrate with everyone and have lots of fun.

I remember when I was in high school and it came time to pick the elective subjects we would study in the higher years and my Mum said I had to pick commerce she didn't mind what other subjects I picked as long as commerce was one of them she told me that it would help when I left school and got a job. So I did and I actually did quite well at it even though it was the one subject I didn't want to do and yes Mum was right all those balance sheets and book keeping clases did help in the career I have, so I agree some things do turn out for the better.

Have Fun

Virginia said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Susan's Dad!!!

Congrats on getting the GR flchen1.
I will have to say I worked the GR pretty hard, so I don't know if you'll get much out of him.

Holiday birthdays can be pretty bad, I know because my hubbys birthday is today the 27. Of course he has already opened his gift and we plan on going out to eat but thats about it, no party.

Maybe things will change when he is older and has a few grandchildren, but right now things are kept pretty simple on his birthday.

jo robertson said...

Delightful post, Susan! How wonderful that you could transform your father's birthday into a really big celebration. My daughter's BD is Dec 27; maybe we can do the same thing!

We girls are going out tomorrow to celebrate with a Happy Happy Fun Day!

Joan said...

Lifting a toast in the Lair to Susan's Dad!

I can't really think of any one particular event of patience or endurance unless you count pursuing a career in romance fiction:

Writing and revising and submitting....kind of like Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Chewing nails repeatedly and trying to type with de-nailed fingers.

Adding another "not for us letter" to the pile of industry mail.

Ok, yeah. Maybe I can think of ONE


Donna MacMeans said...

I don't extended celebration? Heck - Christmas pretty much wiped me out (grin). Actually, your Dad's birthday sounds like a fun way to extend the holiday. So glad his day turned golden.

Hmmm... lemons into lemonaide, right? The best instance for me was a rejection letter I received right before the 2006 National. It really hit me hard as I thought for sure that this publisher would want Mrs. Brimley. I'd given up hope that she was even marketable. However, as it turned out, Berkley bought the book just three months later - and a more fantastic publisher I don't think I could find. So that worked out well.

But wait - that's your publisher as well, right Susan? Yup - they know a good story when they read it.

Louisa Cornell said...

Nice snatch of the GR Fedora. It makes sense after all the holiday travel he would return to his first "love!"

Happy Birthday, Susan's Dad! I understand the disappointment completely. My birthday is December 29th so I never got a birthday party - too soon after Christmas. And many of my gifts were combination birthday/Christmas presents. However, once I married my DH he made sure I always had an extra little celebration and separate birthday presents.

And I certainly hope my patience pays off when it comes to my writing! It did with my singing. After years of auditioning for opera companies here in the States with no luck it took my voice teacher sending a tape to a teacher at the Mozarteum to get me into that school which lead to the audition that snagged my first job as a real professional opera singer. After audition after audition here, one audition in Austria and I was in. The trick is to have the patience to realize that you may be selling oranges in an apple market, but one day you are going to find the person who is buying oranges and you're off!

Beth said...

Happy Birthday to your dad, Susan!

My endurance as a mother has been rewarded by having polite, funny, smart and semi-tolerant teenagers *g*

My endurance as a writer has been rewarded by being able to write for my dream publisher and do something I love each and every day :-)

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Susan, and Happy Birthday to your Dad! :-)

Just to go for something non-writing related...I labored for about a year and a half to get a project done at work (you know, the DDJ) and it was recently approved by both administrative bodies that I appear in front of. There was no fanfare and there was still epic criticism of what we'd done, but it was immensely satisfying to finish the damn thing and get it approved.

Even when no one really understands how much work you've put into something, it's still incredibly satisfying to get it done. :-)

Crianlarich said...

Ha ha, Susan... your post resonates with me, too. I'm Christmas baby as well. As a child, very few friends could come for a party as many were away with family. As an adult - women everywhere know - we women are the ones in the kitchen and everywhere, making things work. Christmas is a busy time!

So my birthday has always been sort of 'behind the door.'

Patience? As a quiet soul, I have always been patient.

Transformation? H'mmm ... perhaps something I imagine most women experience with age. And that is simply the pleasure in being ourselves. Happy in our own skin and with who we are. I think very young women worry too much about being liked and pleasing everyone.

That is an impossible goal and a sure way to end up unhappy. So I would say that somewhere around 40, I woke up one morning to discover I am very happy as I am and, even more liberating, it isn't any skin off my nose if someone doesn't like me. Or my work, my outlook on life, or whatever. Life is too short.

I am how I am and that's fine with me. That's my motto. I also take great care to keep negativity out of my life. Again, life is too short.

Gillian Layne said...

Aw, that's really sweet! And the picture of the cake is amazing.

I'm glad your Dad had a happy birthday! :)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, flchen1! Congrats on the GR! Keep him in line--he loves the holidays. A little too much, maybe. :-)

Piano lessons are a perfect example of pain that will ultimately be transformed into something beautiful, given enough time. And some talent--that's kind of important, too. :-) How long did you take lessons?

Lois said...

I know the feeling, only from the other perspective -- mine is the 22nd. So, while people aren't partied out, they are more along the lines of thinking only for what comes on the 25th, not anything else. Tough in high school. LOL Heck, the one time I had a little party with my friends and it was fun and all. . . but Mom set it up for November since in December restaurants would be too busy and crowded. Sigh. Before or after Christmas, tough all the way around!! LOLOL :)


Susan Sey said...

Hi, Helen! Thanks for the birthday wishes for my dad!

Your mom sounds like a wise woman. My mom insisted I take music & language lessons, my dad insisted I take typing. I have never been sorry for either one. But the typing was especially handy. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Virginia! Tell your husband happy birthday from us! We're all having a late breakfast, sipping coffee/tea & talking about all the great stories from the party last night. Tell your husband that one of these days, he's going to love his birthday. Just wait for the grandbabies. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Happy birthday to your daughter, Jo! I hope the years are as kind to her as they've been to my dad. Enjoy yourselves today!

Susan Sey said...

Joan--you're so right. Writing is a perfect example of patience (endurance?) rewarded. And in your case, I'm absolutely sure it will be rewarded. Handsomely, too, when the world discovers your Romans. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Donna! I love that story. A rejection letter followed up by a sale to an awesome publisher. (Berkley is also my particular favorite.)

There's a woman in my writer's group here in MN who tells a story about getting a rejection letter from an assistant editor at the same publishing house she JUST SOLD TO. She'd submitted to so many people at that house (and many others) she was still getting rejections well after she sold the book.

Susan Sey said...

Louisa--"selling oranges in an apple market"...that's great! It's such an apt description of what so many of us do with our writing. I'm pulling for this to be your year. The year of the orange! And happy birthday on the 29th!

Susan Sey said...

Louisa--"selling oranges in an apple market"...that's great! It's such an apt description of what so many of us do with our writing. I'm pulling for this to be your year. The year of the orange! And happy birthday on the 29th!

Susan Sey said...

Beth--what wonderful rewards for your endurance! My kids are the light of my life & I adore them beyond measure, but I really do long for the day they're smart, funny, independent, loving human beings.

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten--congrats on getting your giant project pushed through & approved! I admire beyond words the kind of endurance it must take to work for that kind of time only to meet criticism of the final product. Take comfort in the fact that it's DONE. Almost as good as typing THE END. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Crianlarich--your post was really insightful & uplifting. I love the idea that one day I'm going to wake & just be okay with everything I am. And if people don't like it? *shrug*

I'm going to look forward to that. :-)

Thanks for that. If nothing else, I needed a reason to look forward to forty (which approacheth rapidly.)

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Gillian! Thanks for the birthday wishes for my dad. We had a great party last night--not a ton of people but all the ones we love best. :-)

I still didn't manage to stay up late enough to say goodbye to everybody. I'm such a lightweight now that I have kids. One beer, two tops & I'm ready for bed.

Susan Sey said...

Lois--I hope your birthday, too, has been transformed. You could kick off the Christmas season! You're the first one! Yay, you!

Or at least this is how I would market it, if I were you. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Fedora! The GR's back withyou. Between you and Helen...I tell ya'!

Susan, I'm a Christmas season baby too, so I'll look forward to the "reframe" your father did! That's great. Fortunately, I'm not quite so close to Christmas, but... :>

As to other things on which I've changed the perspective and there fore how it makes me feel or what it means to me, I've finally managed to do that with how my Dad feels about writing romances, and with how I look at certain things in my past. So, all to the good.

Happy birthday Mr. A (Susan's dad) and many happy returns. Grins.

Great post Susan and Happy Christm-hanna-kwanza-kah to everyone..oh, and Bright Yule too, for those who celebrate that!


flchen1 said...

Susan, I took lessons for WAY too long--something like 10 years. Really, given the pain my parents endured, I really ought to be a concert pianist or something, but at least I can play passably if I have music in front of me ;) And I'm very thankful to be able to do it! (I think maybe the more magical transformation is that my heart is grateful and appreciative now--and maybe given enough time, my children's will be, too! ;))

Treethyme said...

Long before I had my own kids, some good friends of ours had a Christmas baby. Their daughter is my "other" daughter, and over the years we've tried all kinds of things to make her birthday special.

We've tried celebrating it in July, and we've tried doing different things in December, but there's no getting away from it -- if you're born on Christmas Day, your birthday is always going to come second to Christmas.

Every year I try to find her a different "Christmas Birthday" card (it's a challenge) and now we just pack and wrap two different gifts. She gets them on the same day, and sometimes I'm lazy and use Christmas wrap on them both, but at least she gets something separate for each special day.

Another friend just had a baby girl on December 23rd -- apparently this is a big time for birthdays!

Sue A. said...

Susan what a wonderful heartwarming family story!

I don't have a personal story, but your story brings to mind my eldest aunt. She was born in a country where girls are not greatly valued. She's the eldest of many children, with all the responsibility that entails and none of the rewards for being born a girl. She married out of the family through an arrangement, had many children herself and became a widow at 50. Her oldest son immigrated to Canada and she and her other children followed not long after. As a widow in the old country her options would have been limited. Little chance of re-marriage. (And had she not been widowed, she and her husband would never of followed their son to Canada.)

So now she has the freedom afforded women in Western culture even dating men of her choice. She leads an independent life here, living by herself. I'm sure if she had stayed in the old country she would be dependent on her children and living with them. We celebrate Western holidays. Her birthday happens to be close to New Years Day so she gets the royal treatment here in Canada, whereas in the old country another calendar is followed and the celebration falls elsewhere. My aunt’s birth may not have been of great importance to her parents, but to her own children as their only surviving parent it is a cherished event.

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne! Another Christmas season baby! You're going to love the reframe that comes with grandbabies. I know you have a while to wait but according to my dad, it's totally worth it. :-)

And good on you for coming to terms with other people's perceptions of romance novelists. I know my mom is as proud of me as she could possibly be, & yet she can't help but wonder if I'm going to turn my attention to something more...worthy...some day. I keep telling her, "THIS is my dream. Not a rest stop along the way." I'll just keeping saying it, I guess, to everybody who wonders.

Susan Sey said...

flchen1--Oh, the magic words. A grateful heart. I lay awake at night wondering how to inspire a grateful heart in my children who seem to have so much. If you happen to know the secret to that, please do pass it along, won't you? Desperate mothers everywhere want to know...

Susan Sey said...

treethyme--how wonderful that you've taken such care to make your "other daughter's" birthday special. I feel pretty certain that she knows exactly how much she means to you. And that's the biggest gift anyone can give.

Susan Sey said...

Sue A.--what a marvelous story! Talk about a transformation! It must have been like a miracle to your aunt the first time somebody threw her a big ol' birthday party! I hope there were lots of pictures & that your family tells the story until it's worn smooth.

Joan said...

my dad insisted I take typing.

Had to laugh at this Susan as my mother told me the same thing. Typing I and Typing II (which, amazingly, was very similar to Typing I, LOL) in high school

"You should have something to fall back on if the nursing does not work out".

Well, I'm falling back on it with my writing.

And thanks for the thumbs up on my Roman boys. I've just put an excerpt of The Barbarian's Soul on my website....

Janga said...

One of my nephews has a December 23 birthday. His birthday dinner request is always spaghetti and chocolate fudge cake and he's educated us all over the years to wrap his gifts in birthday paper. :)

His second born is a special needs child so profoundly disabled that people have audibly questioned why he even exists. He has spent more of his life in hospitals than in his home, much of it in intensive care. The family has learned though that one of the purposes of his life is to teach us patience and unconditional love. We know he is a blessing, and we are grateful for every day we have him.

Pat Cochran said...

Happy Birthday, Dad!! ( My Dad has
been gone for many years, we lost
my FIL the same year. So I don't
have anyone to say that to! If it's
alright, I'll "adopt" your Dad for one moment!) Many happy returns of this special day!!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Fedora, he's back to his lady love, I see!

Susan, what an inspirational post! Haven't we had some wonderful posts in December? Just when you think everything has been said about the holiday season...

Happy birthday to your dad, Susan! And happy birthday to all our other December bubs!

Susan Sey said...


Ha! Well, at least you're using your Typing accreditation to do something. I have a teaching certificate to "fall back on" myself. Turns out, I dislike teaching. Very much. So my dad went 50/50. Typing, brilliant. Teaching? Not so much. :-)

I'll have to zip over & check out your website. I can get there by clicking on your picture on the Romance Bandits sidebar, can't I...?

Susan Sey said...

Janga--what a beautiful story about your nephew & his son. Life does, indeed, take us places we never anticipated, & teaches us things we never even knew he needed to know. I hope he enjoyed his spaghetti & fudge cake this year. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Pat! My dad will be thrilled to be your Dad for the Day. Especially on his birthday. He has four daughters & thinks we're extremely handy. He'd love to have a fifth.

Unless, of course, you're hoping he'll send you to college or throw you a wedding. Been there, done that, have the bank balance to prove it. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Anna! Thanks for the b-day wishes for my dad. He had a great day yesterday & is currently out ice skating with my youngsters while I figure out how to pack the car for the long ride home. Geez did my kids get a lot of stuff for Christmas!

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks, Susan,

My thanks to your Dad! And no,
weddings/education/etc. are not

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Susan said: she can't help but wonder if I'm going to turn my attention to something more...worthy...some day.

Yep, that's it. That's what my dad says too. Grins.

Well it's the journey, right? Ha!

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Pat--

Oh, hey, with no wedding and/or education expense involved, my dad's happy to increase the flock. We treat him like a king, so what's not to love about daughters? :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Jeanne--

We'll help each other keep our chins up. Do you think it'll be easier once we're NYT bestsellers? Or will we have to find inner peace on our own?


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Inner peace? That, well, we'll probably have to find that on our own, but the NYT thing? That should give us a wee bit more reason to keep our chins up.

limecello said...

Happy birthday, to your dad, Susan :) And congrats on the GR, fedora!

Heh - there are a lot of things I had little interest in as a kid. (Piano, learning certain things - different languages etc) - that I wish I learned better now :P

Susan Sey said...

Hi, limecello--

Ah, the perspective of age, huh? Looking back I wish I'd been a lot of things. But you only get to live life one direction, right?

Which reminds me---has anybody seen the new Brad Pitt movie yet? THe one where he ages in reverse? I've heard it has all kinds of interesting things to say about wisdom & age & youth & beauty & connection. Maybe I'll try to schedule a date night soon so I can see it before I get too old to appreciate it. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Jeanne! I would like nothing better than to keep you company on the NYT bestseller list. :-) I'll see what I can do...

Michele L. said...

Wow! Happy Birthday to your dad, Susan!

Gosh, I would have to say my endurance comes from taking care of my hubby and my elderly mom. She is 83 soon to be 84 and has bad balance and her memory is going. My hubby is a lot like Pigpen, the Peanuts character, that leaves little messes whereever he goes. I am constantly picking up after him. Endurance is definitely the right word!

Happy Early New Year!
Michele L.