The Girl Who Has Birthday Cake and Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving of 1971 found us living with a bit of uncertainty. I was expecting our youngest child, and the due date fell only 3 days after Thanksgiving. That meant we wouldn’t be traveling to either side of our family for the holiday, and I also didn’t want to invite any of them to come to our house in case the baby arrived early or, Heaven forbid, on Thanksgiving Day. I had visions of stuffing the turkey while timing contractions. No, that would not work.
My husband suggested we go out for dinner to a lovely restaurant about 15 miles north of our town. “It’ll be nice for the three of us to have dinner out on a holiday for a change.” I wasn’t convinced but knew it was probably the best solution.
Thanksgiving Day arrived, and our house had no good smells coming from the kitchen. No roasting turkey scented the air. I couldn’t detect any cinnamon and pumpkin from the pies either, for there were none. It didn’t feel right, and besides that, we would not be with any of our family. It made me sad, and as the day progressed, my sadness swelled almost in proportion to the great mound of stomach that let the world know we’d soon be parents again.
I helped Kirk get dressed. He was three and a half but still liked help from Mommy. I wished a little of his excitement would transfer to me. I tried to put on a cheerful front. No sense in ruining the day for my husband or son. I managed to do that until we walked into the restaurant, which had once been a Victorian home. Elegant furnishings, crystal, china and linens on the tables, along with Thanksgiving centerpieces should have been the first thing I noticed. Instead, I saw only the many people either eating or getting ready to eat. Still holding Kirk’s hand, I turned to my husband and said, “What are all these people doing here? They should be eating at home!” Obviously, my vision centered on only one thing that day.
The hostess escorted us to our table, and we had a sumptuous meal. I think Kirk and Ken enjoyed it more than I, since the baby chose that time to practice somersaults so it was hard for me to concentrate on the fine food on my plate.
The next day, there were no Thanksgiving leftovers at our house, and the day progressed like any normal Friday. I stayed home all day, no Christmas shopping like other Thanksgiving week-ends. And the sadness of the day before refused to disappear. It enveloped me from head to toe. Pregnant women are known to be emotional, and I surely was all that holiday week.
In bed that night, I lay awake a long time thinking about the new baby. We’d lost both our first and third babies when they were still infants, so there was a little anxiety mixed in with the hope of having a healthy baby this time, just like Kirk had been. I’d felt very positive all through this pregnancy, but a tiny bit of fear still lingered. My nightly prayer centered on having a healthy baby, boy or girl didn’t matter.
Shortly before a strong contraction woke me. I slipped out of bed, not wanting to wake Ken until I knew I was really in labor. By , I knew it was for real, and Ken was up and dressed. He scooped our sleeping little boy into a blanket and placed him in my arms in the front seat of the car. Good friends, alerted by a phone call, were waiting as we pulled into their driveway to deliver Kirk into their care. Then it was on to the hospital in the darkest part of night. It began to snow as we made our way through quiet streets.
Karen was born later that morning. When I held my baby girl with her small amount of golden hair and big blue eyes, all the sadness and grumpy behavior of the earlier few days melted away. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that we’d not seen our families on Thanksgiving Day. It didn’t matter that we’d eaten a holiday dinner in a restaurant and didn’t have any savory leftovers the next day. All that mattered lay in my arms—a healthy and beautiful baby girl for us to love.
Some years, Karen’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day. So, we have birthday cake and pumpkin pie at our Thanksgiving dinner. Even when the birthday falls on a day prior to or after the holiday, we still have birthday cake and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving as that is when we come together as a family. When she blows out the candles on her birthday cake, I think back to that Thanksgiving so long ago when I created my own problem and the great joy I received only two days later.