In the old days, when Athena was much younger, the only way she knew it was her birthday was when we would burst into her room first thing in the morning with a cake and candles and sing “Happy Birthday” to her. Eventually she figured out the date, but we still burst into her room with a cake because, you know. Family tradition. Our daughter seems pretty tolerant of this. Because who doesn’t like breakfast cake? No one, that’s who.

Also, as is the custom with our people, we celebrated our offspring’s sixteenth nativity by presenting her with a large inflatable duck.

Is this not the custom of your people as well? No? Hmmmm.

In any event, I wish you and yours the best for this, the 16th Athenamas. May your day be utterly fabulous. And if you should wish to wish my daughter a happy birthday, I would not look askance upon it.

105 Comments on “Sixteen”

  1. Happy Birthday, Athena!

    I’ve seen that look on my own son’s face, more than once. Now that he’s in his mid-20’s, he even seems amused once in a while. We love you all the more for tolerating our antics! And know that you’re not alone in the “I have nerds for parents” world. ;)

  2. Happy birthday, Athena! You share it with my niece, another awesome girl, five years your junior. Luckily, you don’t have to share your cake with her. :)

  3. Felicitations, Athena, and may your year be a truly wonderful one!

    Also, the customs of your people are just plain wierd. I simply do not understand a tradition that considers a giant inflatable duck a reasonable substitute for a live platypus. I am so sorry that your parents were not able to supply that essential element for a proper 16th birthday celebration, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive them anyway.

  4. Blessed Anniversary of your entrance into the world, Athena!

    May you live a long life
    Full of gladness and health
    With a pocket full of gold
    As the least of your wealth
    May the dreams you hold dearest
    Be those which come true
    May the kindness you spread
    Keep returning to you.
    ~Irish Blessing

  5. Happy birthday, Athena!

    So far, I have celebrated 56 birthdays on this date — I hope you have as many, and plenty more, all interesting stops along the way.

  6. Athenamas. The beginning of a 10-day celebration in which there is much gift giving, imbibing and worldwide celebrations. Go figure. May the odds be ever in your favor and may you always have a large inflatable duck at your back.

  7. Ah family traditions. We let our kids have whatever breakfast they want in their birthday, which often means chocolate sundaes. A but heavy for me ;). Growing up we put candles in coffee cake and sang happy birthday to baby Jesus on Christmas morning. I was stunned later in life to find out that’s not normal!

    Any who, happy birthday Athena! Thankfully I still have 2 years to worry about my daughter turning sixteen.

  8. Happy Athenamas, Athena

    And here’s another Irish Blessing for you. ‘Cause you can never have too many Irish Blessings (or any other kind for that matter).

    May the blessing of the rain be on you— the soft sweet rain.
    May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up,
    and shed their sweetness on the air.
    May the blessing of the great rains be on you, may they beat upon your spirit
    and wash it fair and clean, and leave there many a shining pool
    where the blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.


  9. Happy Birthday Athena :). You look so like Krissy in the first pic. And what’s not to love about a giant inflatable duck! – you’re never alone with one, that’s for sure.

  10. I’m sure she lay awake all night just waiting for you two to burst in with that cake and duck! Poor girl, no sleep…..happy birthday, Athena! Have a wonderful day, and I hope you get some sleep, too.

  11. Happy Birthday, Athena. May all your wishes come true and may you also share a memorable tradition like the duck with your family.

  12. Athena:

    You look absolutely thrilled to be awakened at some ungodly hour by parents bearing a giant inflatable duck. Don’t worry, you have plenty of time to plot sweet, sweet revenge.

    In the meantime, enjoy your birthday!

  13. Happy birthday Athena!
    The customs of your people are weird, but as a random factoid about your day, I can tell you that my people’s customs are even weirder for Athenamas – known as Thorlaksmessa here in Iceland. We eat fermented skate which smells mainly of ammonia. Folklore maintains that in order to get the *really* good skate you have to have it marinated in urine. Seriously. #TheCustomsOfMyPeople #OfCourseIDon’tParticipate #It’sDisgusting

  14. Happy birthday, Athena! Hope the day is filled with joy, surprises, laughter, and love. It looks to me like the last of these is well-covered.

  15. Happy Birthday, Athena, and thank you for letting your Dad share these pictures with us. I hope you have a wonderful day today and a great year ahead of you.

  16. Next year, TWO ducks!

    Happy birthday, Athena. All best for the coming year.


    Some guy on the Internet.

  17. Wow Deborah, that’s a beautiful blessing. I echo it’s sentiments.
    Have a joyous day Athena.
    I suggest sneaking up on your Dad when he is snoozing, unplug The Duck and squeeze it so it squeals in his ear. Kind of like are really large yellow bagpipe.

  18. Happy Birthday Athena! May it be wonderful.

    Just wondering: How did they get the duck in your room without waking you? If it is truly “giant”, it shouldn’t have fit through the door in its inflated form. If it is, and was snuck in deflated, that’s a lot of huffing an puffing to sleep through. Or does it have an airbag-type inflator and went instantly from deflated to giant?

  19. Ah, yes, the traditional Ducking of Nerdistan, signifying that Athena is a fully adult member of the tribe of Geek.

    In the tribe of Michigan, we’d go to the Temple of Bill Knapp, where the honoree was presented with a pretty darn good cake!

  20. A very happy birthday! And a suggestion: if you cover that duck with dark grey spackle it’s a dead ringer for Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

  21. Happy Birthday Athena!

    Also, I need to know where you got that duck, John. There’s an almost 2 year old in my family who needs one.

  22. Happy Birthday Athena! All the best to you in the year(s) ahead. I wish you a life of joy and challenges, one of adventure and peace and one filled with family, friends and loved ones.

  23. Happy Birthday to Athena! She’s exactly 14 years older than my daughter who also celebrates her natality on this day (although she doesn’t quite grasp it yet at 2). Anyway, hooray for Christmas Eve Eve birthdays!

  24. Happy Birthday Athena! Have a wonderful year, and hope your duck does also!

    P.S. Christmas Eve Eve is also known as Christmas Adam :-)

  25. So your blood is black!? As for the ancient deflatable duck gift ceremony, I didn’t know you’re from the Trobriand Islands…

    And indeed a very Happy Birthday to Athena and many happy returns!

  26. Breakfast cake…MMMMM!!!…(Imagine Homer Simpson sounds).
    But you ARE aware there are TWO very large warnings printed on that duck?
    If it makes any strange noise, DUCK!
    (Sorry. The Devil made me type it.)

  27. Happy birthday, Athena! You’ve become quite the young lady, it seems.

    I did not know your birthday fell upon the great holiday of Festivus! May your Airing of Grievances be short and justifiable, and may you prevail in the Feats of Strength.

  28. Happy Chrismabirthday, Athena! From someone who’d daughter also has a Chrismabirthday.

  29. Happy Birthday, Athena! Imagine the size of the duck you will get next year! I mean…

    I hope your day is as perfect as a day that starts with cake for breakfast can be.

  30. Happy Birthday Athena!

    Oh, and I notice in her tweets, she is paraphrasing Neil Gaiman. Is that a declaration of war in the Scalzi household (citing a non-family member author)?

  31. Happy BDay!

    [P.S.: I suffer from the same curse that you do (BDay so very close to XMas). I solved it by observing and celebrating “half birthdays” instead (ie: celebrate turning 37.5 instead of 37)…]

  32. Happy birthday, Athena! Of course, any day that starts with breakfast cake and an inflatable duck can only go downhill, but keep your chin up anyway!

  33. Happy Birthday, Athena! I am trying to divine the connection between Athenamas and large, inflatable ducks.

  34. Happy Birthday, Athena!
    My daughter’s 16th was just a couple days ago. We are still recovering from the sugar coma.

    Have a wonderful year and keep becoming more and more yourself :-)

  35. Happy Birthday Athena! I’d suggest bringing the Giant Inflatable Duck on the boat, but I don’t think even a jr. suite is big enough to hold it….

    But it would be AWESOME in the swimming pool!

  36. I wish Athena much happiness and joy, not only for her birthday, but for every day. I’ve enjoyed watching her grow into an intelligent, indominitable young woman.

  37. If you’ve gotten her to accept the Giant Inflatable Duck, by the time she’s 50 she’ll be ready for the Dutch tradition of putting a giant inflatable Sarah or Abraham in the front yard for people turning that age. (Or more likely, she’ll be ready to do that to you when you turn 50…)

  38. Have a Happy and Wonderful Birthday Athena! May you always have a special day of celebration that you appreciate! Those Parental folks may seem a bit odd, but that is usually until you become one, then you know they are odd, weird, and a bit strange. It makes life a bit more entertaining though!

  39. The very happiest of Birthdays, Athena! May you and your giant inflatable duck have many fun and memorable adventures. One can never have too many giant inflatable duck stories.

  40. Happy birthday, indeed. Also, hold on to the giant inflatable duck; you never know when it may be needed…

  41. The custom of my people was for my dad to sing a terrible rendition of “Happy Birthday”. My BFF gave me a rubber duckie for my 30th. So we have similar customs.

    Since you didn’t get a car (neither did I; neither do most of us) you have two choices. Either put wheels on the duck, or stuff the duck into your dad’s car. It’s your birthday, so you get to choose.

    I got a root canal for my 16th. I’d rather have had the duck.

  42. Happy birthday, Athena! My niecephews are still young enough that we count them in months, so happy 192 months, if you prefer!

    I hope today and this year are both great.

  43. Congratulations to Athena on this auspicious day, and congratulations to the duck, for acquiring such an Athena.

  44. Happy Athenamas, Athena! Glad to see Scalzi pere and mere decided not to do a giant duck out on celebrating the occasion. Hope the cake, whatever flavor it was, proved appropriate for this auspicious day.

  45. 16! Wow, its almost like I have been watching her grow up like forever. Happy birthday kiddo may all the good things you envision today come to you.

  46. 16th Athenamas.


    This is my mom’s 81st birthday.

    So conga-rats to both of them and conga-rats to Athena for being exceptionally tolerant of her parents’ oddities. Usually it’s the parents who have to be tolerant of the child’s oddities. :)

  47. Happy birthday, Athena, and sorry I’m a day late.
    I blame your dad for that, because he fails to post these things by 5am Eastern Time. As a dancing monkey he falls somewhat shy of perfection.

  48. I kept reading Athenamas as Anathema, or maybe Anathemata*. But Athenamas is better. Athena, I happied your birthday on Twitter, but I hope (again) it was happy (again).

    *from a book she’s now old enough to read. Or maybe wait a year.

  49. Add a pair of glasses to be peered over and that’s the “Daaaaad… you are SO wierd…” look I often get from MY daughter, who is now 22… gotta love it… it’s our mission in life…

  50. Hah! My son’s birthday is on December 22nd! Therefore he’s one day older than Athena…even though he’s only 9.