A Hallowed Tradition

Back when our daughter was very young we wouldn’t tell her when her birthday was; we’d spring it on her by waking her up with a cake with candles and singing “Happy Birthday” to her. As she got older, she figured out her actual birth date, but we’d still descend into her room in the morning to wake her up. Because it was a family tradition. Now, on her fifteenth birthday, as the picture shows, she may be getting less enthused about being wrenched from sleep by maniacally grinning parents thrusting a flaming dessert at her. But we’ll keep doing it anyway, because that’s what parental love is all about! And also, you know. Tradition.

Anyway: My kid is fifteen today. That’s pretty cool.

57 Comments on “A Hallowed Tradition”

  1. Happy birthday to her! How does she feel about having a birthday so close to Christmas? My late sister’s birthday was Dec 30 and she hated it since everyone got presents just a few days earlier.

  2. I remember the day a friend of mine said “I eagerly await the day when she is sixteen and back home in the early morning from a party and i can stand there at 6 a.m. in the morning at her bed and shout >>Daddy want’s to play!<<". From that i guess your daughter should be glad to have such nice parents ;-).

  3. Considering what recent research has found about teens and sleep, this *is* a little bit evil.

    Hopefully it isn’t a school day.

  4. Tammy says that when Athena grows up irreparably scarred, she’ll know who to thank for it….

    Of course, she also has a mid-December birthday, as does Katherine Coville – so I get her presents for both, and we celebrate them separately. :)

  5. Jonathan Hendry:

    If it were a school day, she would have been in school at the time we did it. That is the nice thing for her, actually: She’s never had a birthday on a school day.

  6. Indeed, I wish Athena a very happy birthday and commend your insistence on distinguishing it from the general Xmas festivities; my younger sister’s birthday is on Boxing Day and her life was somewhat blighted by people who got her one present to cover both events…

  7. Happy Birthday! And if she ever gets tired of having a birthday so close to Christmas, she could create an Official Birthday at some other time of year and celebrate then :).

  8. You daughter is 15?

    Wow. You’re old.

    And please wish Athena a “Happy Birthday” for me.

  9. One of these years, she’s going to wake up ahead of you guys and jump-scare you as you come into her room and send cake and candles flying everywhere.

  10. I thought the title was ‘A Halloween Tradition’ and could not for the life of me figure out why you were writing about one in December. I now understand my mistake. I understand the frustration with a birthday near a holiday. Mine is November 30 so I always got caught between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Anyway, Athena when you get older you can celebrate it when ever you want and what ever TIME you want too.

  11. As we’ve always kept the two dates separate, Athena’s not been inclined to indulge in “half-birthdays” or the like, even though I thought that might be a cool idea.

  12. This is seriously cool.

    I love family traditions that sort of happen out of the mainstream. I had a friend whose parents celebrated birthdays by stuffing cash into the number of balloons that matched the person’s age, then set them loose to stick at the top of the 2nd story foyer until they lost enough helium to come down. It was creative and unique, and despite the fact that getting instant money on her birthday would have been great, my friend loved the wackiness of waiting for her balloons to drop. I’m sure your kidlet loves the wake-up call, even though the idea of a little extra sleep might be tempting, too.

  13. Love the Rembrandt-esque lighting in the picture :)

    You both realize she is a 15 year old girl, and therefore will terrify you in the upcoming years without being woken up on her birthday to give her motivation to work harder in that regard ;)

  14. John – I was born at 5:31 (MDT). Every year, when I was younger, my mother would wake me up at 5:31 on the morning of my birthday. In the intervening years, I’ve grown up, moved out, and changed time zones and my mother and I will still call each other at the equivalent of 5:31 (MDT) wherever we are. It’s an awesome tradition.

    Kudos to you and Christine for raising such an awesome kid and happy birthday to Ms. Athena.

  15. You have a very understanding daughter. I think if my parents woke me up, shoved a cake at me, and posted the pictures on the internet… I have no idea what would happen.

  16. Honestly, I’m glad you waited until morning. I saw that picture and immediately thought you woke her up at midnight to thrust flaming dessert at her.

    And Happy Birthday, Athena!

  17. You woke up a Tween early during her school vacation? Brave people.
    Happy Birthday, Athena!

  18. Good grief, suddenly she reminds me of Molly Carpenter. May she (and you) be blessed with a FAR less eventful life.

  19. I have a feeling this tradition will get more interesting when she’s much older, and in college.
    But Happy Birthday Athena!
    May the rest of your day consist of more flaming desserts and gifts! (which I hope aren’t on fire, but you never know!)

  20. Well, if she really gets to not like it, she can booby-trap the door. And that might lead to a second, hallowed family tradition…

  21. (C) Are there actually 15 candles squeezed onto that one piece of cake? And do birthday candles do the same thing as sparklers, where if you squeeze too many together into one spot, they go up in a massive *WHUMPF!* rather than burning down normally?

  22. My oldest was 20 yesterday. We’ve always made her birthday a day of no carols, no christmas anything, so of course we went to the movies – she wanted to see Frozen. Not so very grown up after all. Happy birthday from my winter baby, Callan, to yours! Happy Birthday, Athena. Live long and prosper.

  23. My Dad used to sing “Estas Son Las Mananitas” at the top of his lungs at 6am on my birthday. As I got older, he would call me and sing over the phone. Now that I’m in my 40s, he doesn’t do it anymore and it makes me a little sad because I still brace myself for it.

  24. Happy birthday, Athena! From what I’ve gotten to know about you, over the years, from following your father’s blog – you seem like an incredible person. May you have many happy returns!

  25. Athena and I share a birthday, although the day she was busy being born, I was busy turning 40. It’s a fine day for being born. The doctors expected me to be born in late November, so by the time I finally showed up, my mother was *way* over anything but terror that I’d decided to stay in there forever. I suspect they don’t let women go a month over the due date anymore, but then what with ultrasound, they also seem to be better at refining due dates.

    Happy birthday to Athena, and many many wonderful returns on the day.

  26. Weasel, who is also fifteen, says “I feel her pain.”

    Happy birthday, Athena. And for the record, I think your parents ROCK.

  27. You, sir, are a very bad man in a very good way. I cracked up the moment I saw this picture.

    Man, I wish MY family was this cool. Your daughter is so very lucky to have you, an incredibly awesome author and geek god, as a parent.

    I hope that your generic holidays go well, sir!

  28. Now that Athena is 15, John, you are officially a “tween” of sorts yourself: old enough to be considered old (and receive birthday cards making fun of that state of affairs), but not old enough to qualify for senior discounts. At 56, I’m still there myself. Welcome to the club! ;-)

    Happy Birthday, Athena!! :)

  29. I’m a Capricorn myself. As a kid I often got “this is for both your birthday and Christmas” As an adult I understand why but as a kid it hurt. Congrats to you for keeping the 2 separate. I take that you both still have all your limbs so that means she took it well enough which is a very good sign. 15 can be an awful age for both you and her but it seems like you both have a good start to live through it.

  30. I expect my fifteen year old son would’ve thrown something at me if I’d woken him in the dark to celebrate his birthday. Of course, there’s nothing quite like a flaming pillow case and cake on the floor to start the day off with a little excitement. :) I hope you all had a great time celebrating her birthday.

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