Remembering a little-known birthday tradition
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A Birthday Ritual

My grandfather performed this little known birthday ritual for me and my mother before me.

A Birthday Ritual
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I wake to the clink, clank, clink –

of Grandpa vigorously shaking a shovel,

Emptying ashes from the coal stove.

The sweet smell of sulfur and smoke

Fills the air. Still, blazing embers ignite

new coal as Grandpa stokes the fire.

In bed, I curl into a fetal ball

between two handmade quilts -

a guard against the morning chill.

A red square in the center is the hearth,

'round it the family gathers.

Each square a part of a calendar-

That blue square marks my birth.

I run my finger along each stitch


Today is the anniversary of my birth.

I hear Grandpa's slippers sliding -

Sneaking with the stealth of a spy

across the kitchen floor.

Grasping the edge of the mattress

I prepare myself to resist what's in store.

Suddenly, he's there!

He grabs my foot and pulls and begins to sing

"Happy Birthday to you!..."

I hang on tightly, screaming -

He just laughs and pulls some more.

As I struggle to get away,

I know it is no use.

In the end, he will win. He takes me into

his loving arms, lays me on the floor and then

he rolls me under the bed.

I roll out and he rolls me back.

Laughing, I jump into his arms.

I may not get a spanking or even receive a gift,

but on one thing I can always depend

every year he will celebrate my birth

by pulling me from my slumber and rolling me under the bed.

I am reborn.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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