Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 26 March 2010 00:00
Growing up in the Bronx, birthdays were never an important event in the lives of my family. My parents were both immigrants from Poland who came over to the USA to find peace, happiness and economic security.
They opened a dry goods store on 174th Street between Bryant and Vyse Avenues. They tended the store six days a week from 8 a.m. in the morning to 9 p.m. in the evening. They struggled in the retail trade and on Sundays they traveled to the Lower East Side to buy merchandise to replenish the empty shelves.
My sister Sandra (Sandy) and myself managed to grow up and be normal (?) kids in the environment. However, birthdays came and went and no celebrations were evident. Maybe a grunted “Happy Birthday,” but I don’t even remember that courtesy.
When I became a married man, my wife, Lorraine, remembered the birthday of half the civilized world. She was always out shopping for someone’s birthday gift or arranging a birthday party for someone, whom I usually did not know. Our children’s birthdays were more like national holidays, except for the fact that the schools were not closed.
Wrapping birthday gifts was another unpaid occupation for my wife, Lorraine. The Scotch tape, Hallmark cards and the wrapping paper flowed like champagne. Fortunately, there are only 365 days in the year.
Recently, we have become involved in a wonderful new, birthday extravaganza. We have joined with two other couples to celebrate each person’s birthday, with a dinner and gifts at a local restaurant. Six days a year, January to December, are spent with my two classmates, Dr. Gary Greene and Susan, his lovely wife, and Dr. Donald Kaner and his charming wife, Elaine. These birthday times are exceptionally wonderful and I must admit that I look forward to them.
I guess I have completed the cycle, going from non-recognition to celebrating days of birth for a large number of people.
It really isn’t all that bad!