Auntie B's day

Bubby and his Auntie BToday is Bubby's Auntie B's birthday. Yep, my Brianna is now 27 years old!

Although it's been a few years since all my girls have been living at or near home, I'm still not completely used to having birthday celebrations with one or more family members MIA. Birthdays have always been an important day in our family, and it just feels funny not having all five of us -- plus our newest members, Preston and Bubby -- around for the festivities.

The festivities aren't huge deals; in fact, they're usually relatively low key. But they're a special family time, and I've still not gotten a firm handle on "family" being fewer than five.

From the time the girls were itsy bitsy, we'd mark their special day with cake and gifts -- first thing in the morning! Jim worked two jobs for much of our first decade together, which meant he'd often leave before breakfast and return once the girls were in bed. Which meant birthdays had to be celebrated in the early hours of the day as there was no way we'd have cake and open gifts without Dad in attendance.

As the girls got older, birthdays were usually celebrated twice: once with their friends in some sort of home-based theme party and again with just our family of five gathered around the dining room table. When the teen years hit, birthdays were typically outings to a restaurant of their choice, with the family plus a friend in tow.

When Megan's first birthday away at college came (our only daughter with a birthday falling during the school year), I had her roommate write "Happy Birthday" in red lipstick on the bathroom mirror -- a tradition in our family, to greet the birthday gal first thing in the morning. Each college year after, I ordered birthday cakes from the Ladies Guild to be delivered to Megan to share with her college friends. Then, of course, we'd celebrate as a family when she came home for the holidays.

When Megan married Preston and they moved hundreds of miles from our home base, her sisters hopped on a plane and surprised her for her first birthday away from the family. And when Bubby had his first birthday, the rest of us flew in for the party, making sure we were there for the can't-miss event.

I understand that we won't always be able to do such things, that our shared birthdays (and holidays) are and will continue to be fewer and farther apart. That's okay. We're all coming to terms a little better with the newfangled way in which we celebrate special days. Megan's far away and Brianna and Andie work unconventional hours, so we do our best to fit in the festivities in whatever way we can. We make do, much like we did with birthday cake for breakfast when marking the girls' first few birthdays.

So although we wish Bubby, Megan and Preston could join us, the rest of us are looking forward to dinner (grilled shrimp and couscous) and a movie ("The Time Traveler's Wife") in recognition of Brianna's special day. Only it'll take place tomorrow because Brianna has to work tonight.

But that's okay ... we're all a little old now to get a kick out of eating birthday cake first thing in the morning!

Happy Birthday, Nonner!