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Lots of hoopla for a first birthday party

January 29, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor, Herald-Star ( , The Herald-Star

I'm reasonably confident that when I turned 1 in April of 1959, there wasn't a lot of hoopla in the Hout household.

There were not enough balloons around for the house to have been involuntarily lifted from its foundation courtesy of excessive quantities of helium.

There were not guests invited from the entire 43944 Richmond zip code area to celebrate the occasion.

There were not countertops heavy laden with a spread of food fit for a small wedding reception.

And there were not gifts from here to there and beyond all because I was no longer "zero" but at last 1.

Happy birthday to me.

I considered all this when I was a recent guest at a first birthday party.

And I was amused - very amused - when I started to wonder how things were April 21, 1959, when I reached that milestone of having lived my first 365 days on Earth.

I doubt that my parents even had the energy for a high five let alone a blowout party, given I was the youngest of five children. Besides, all those significant occasions the first or second time around get a little less exciting the third, fourth and fifth time.

I can understand that. No hard feelings.

I think there's a reason why babies don't really have memories. That way, they have no evidence, no proof to justify being annoyed in later life, to feel cheated or slighted about birthday parties or the lack thereof.

Memory or none, I remain more than reasonably confident that there wasn't a lot of birthday party excess on my account, simply because that would not have been the Pidge and Ruth tradition, much less the tradition of the times for that matter.

But the first birthday party where I was a guest is testimony to how things have changed.

A first birthday party warrants lots of fuss and fanfare.

Lots of guests.

Lots of food.

Lots of preparation.

Lots of pictures.

I don't think my parents even owned a camera. If they did, they surely never got stuff developed.

I always figured had it not been for public education and school pictures, my childhood would have been entirely void of pictorial evidence of my existence.

The one voice of frugality in the midst of this birthday bash extravagance belonged to one of the party-goers who without hesitation announced that her gift bag was the one without any birthday card.

"I don't buy cards for people who don't read," she said without a hint of apology in her voice.

"Cards cost $4," she said.

I laughed along with some of the other guests.

After all, mine only cost $3.50.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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