Childhood Birthdays: Times Past

1960.2 birthdaycake

© irene waters 2017

I don’t believe how quickly this month has come around. Already we are into the third day of it and I haven’t posted a prompt nor thought of one. No – one has just come to me. The celebration of birthdays seems to have undergone significant change from when I was a child to the child of today – or is it a geographical difference rather than a generational difference. Perhaps it is a difference of economic or social status. I grew up in a rural area of Australia as a Baby Boomer and the celebrations for my birthdays were predominantly quiet family affairs.

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

Baby Boomer    Rural Australia

1962.6 Irene 6thbirthday

© irene waters 2017

Our birthdays were celebrated but normally with a family party.  I don’t remember in my childhood ever having a party where I invited friends, although my brother had at least one. He would have been in high school which may have made the difference. We

had moved to the city by the time I went to high school. This was a period I have absolutely no recollection of even having a birthday. My brother’s party consisted of simple food – probably cocktail frankfurts, which we called little boys, some sandwiches and perhaps some sweet biscuits. We would have played the games (hide and seek and some other game that involved holding a tennis ball between foreheads) and then sat down to eat. The cake was the important item in our family. The children would then have ridden home on their bikes. It would have been unlikely that they went home with a bag of lollies.

My Mum, who was not really at home in the kitchen, always went to a lot of trouble to provide a cake that we would like.

Mine were invariably dolls whilst my brother got trains and space ships. Looking back now I hope we let her know we loved these cakes at the time for with the passage of time I know these would have been a real effort for her to make.

There was the odd child that invited us to birthday parties which were similar to my brothers with games followed by a feast. From most of these we did go home with a box of lollies but these weren’t given out — they had to be earnt. Perhaps winning Pin the tail on the donkey or musical chairs or from the treasure hunt. We didn’t miss having the big birthday parties – for a family of introverts perhaps it was rather a relief.

Bayby Boomer – Australia   Capital city

Generation Z – Switzerland City

My nephews have quite a different experience to my own. Each birthday has been highly celebrated and this is the norm. Even the first birthday was celebrated twice – once with the family and a huge party for the kids. Almost every weekend one of the children will be off to a birthday party.

Parties themselves are quite different. Some will be themed – theatre, paintball, spiderman, zoo and the list is endless of the possibilities available. If a party is held at home it will most likely have a jumping castle.

Generation Z – Germany Rural town

This nephew has a similar experience to my own. He always has a family party – although his family is bigger than mine with grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles. A table is set up with his presents and he opens them as the guest of honour. He spends time with each gift giving it all his attention – clearly thrilled with it, before moving on to the next present. When he had his birthday at our place in Australia his grandmother set it up exactly as it would have been at home.


© irene waters 2017

And remembering back to the cakes I loved so much as a child, and with me having the same culinary skills as my mother, I attempted to make the unforgettable cake.


© irene waters 2017


What do you remember of your childhood birthdays?  I’m looking forward to reading  you memories…….


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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24 Responses to Childhood Birthdays: Times Past

  1. Charli Mills says:

    These memory prompts are great fun, but what I appreciate most is how the results compare place, time and generation. This one will be fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JT Twissel says:

    I was raised in Reno Nevada and so my birthdays were generally celebrated in casino restaurants! My favorite was the Mapes where they had the best fries and chocolate malts in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Val says:

    What lovely memories and photos, Irene. And what a good idea for a Times Past post.

    I had birthday parties until I was about eleven when I decided I was too grown up for them and was, instead, taken to the cinema for two or three years running (to see musicals. I loved Rodgers and Hammerstein – still do!) My parties (I’m a ‘Boomer’ and the parties were in London, England) consisted of a large table with all sorts of party food such as bridge rolls (a very soft white-bread roll), jelly and trifle, probably also little cakes or meringues. I had a birthday cake, but a bought one. I liked sky-blue iced cake with white piped icing for decoration and… for a few years when I was very little I only wanted on shaped like a basket!) My birthday cake candle holders were edible – which I only discovered years later when I stupidly tried to eat them.

    There were party games arranged by a friend’s mother, most of which I loathed as I didn’t understand the rules. There were balloons that a younger cousin always tried to burst, paper chains for decoration that I remember my mother and I making out of coloured paper strips and glue.

    If it was dry, we’d eventually all be shooed out into the garden to play where we could run around without getting under the parents’ feet (some came with the kids and stayed, some left and returned to pick up their offspring later).

    These parties were always at home but I don’t remember my parents ever joining me and my friends at the table – though they did keep an eye on us, I’m sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’d have loved to join you for Rogers and Hammerstein – I enjoy them too. Your parties sound similar to the ones in my childhood only with perhaps a bit more food – possibly because in London you had access to a greater variety than we did at that time. I won’t ask why, after believing them inedible for years, you suddenly decided to try eating your candle holders.
      We made those chain link decorations also but ours were for Christmas decoration rather than birthday.
      Thanks for joining in Val – I love those similarites, differences and the prompts to the memory that your memories bring me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Annecdotist says:

    Another interesting topic, Irene. I had a lot of birthday parties when I was of primary school age, which I can authenticate as there’s a cine film of one when I was six, which might have been the first. Lots of little girls around the dining table tucking in to fish paste sandwiches followed by ice cream, fruit and jelly. There was always an iced cake (perhaps a fruitcake, I can’t remember) although not nearly as artistic as your mother’s. We also had standard party games like Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail on the Donkey and, as I had two older brothers and an older sister my mother had a bit of help. Although my birthday falls in the summer, I don’t think we ever played outside, even though we had a garden. Because it came in the middle of the school holidays, and we didn’t have a telephone to remind people, I suspect I used to worry that my friends would forget to come.

    Over here, lots of people take their young kids to play centres for parties nowadays – makes sense when kids are less constrained than in my day and homes a bit neater. But I can’t see the point of parties for kids under three, unless it’s an excuse for the parents to get together.
    I must say, you and your brother look really sweet sitting at the table!

    Baby boomer generation, smalltown UK

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne for your memories. How wonderful that you have a cine film of one of them. The biggest difference is that you didn’t play outside. Most parties I attended would have been outside unless it was raining. I was interested to in your comment that homes are a bit neater. I wonder if that is a commonly held opinion – it could become a prompt at some point.
      Thanks for thinking we looked sweet. How photographs can lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fun topic. I really enjoyed all the photos as they tell part of each story. You Aussie kids, always barefoot. And that wonderful cake at the very end – looks, well, delightful. I’m still grinning as I write this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Times Past: Birthday Parties | Musings of a Retiring Person

  7. Ah, those cakes. The early seventies, the mothers always making an elaborate cake. Cakes got better as I got older, nothing fancy, just tasty. Blueberry cobbler was often my request as blueberries are in season at my birthday. Or carrot cake because it is a favorite. Not normally a baker, there was a period when I was a landscape gardener and working 80+ hour weeks, and so I would grant myself a complete day off on my birthday and bake my own carrot cake and of course the cream cheese frosting. Other things got done, but with one main goal it was meditative and relaxing and the cake the grand finale of a Me day. Nowadays I am the one who has time off in the summer so I again often make my Me day center around food preparation and host the birthday gathering, giving a meal to friends and family who are busy. I remember most all of my childhood birthdays, but especially my tenth, as finally I was heard. Maybe my mother just gave up, but I got what I asked for for a present, which was a hammer. It was fort building time after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If you aren’t sure about the next topic, have you done one on fairs yet? Like agricultural fairs, or carnivals, or annual parades?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ted says:

    Over here, lots of people learn their youthful kids to turn centres for parties nowatwenty-four hour periods – makes horse sense when kids are less constrained than in my twenty-four hour period and homes a flake neater.
    Thanks for joining in Val – I making love those similarites, differences and the prompts to the computer memory that your memories land me.

    Liked by 1 person

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