The Norman Transcript

February 2, 2014

The best birthday gifts

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The sad thing about having a house full of company is that, eventually, they all think they have to go home.

I have a personal rule that I’ll pick you up from the airport, but I hate to drop you off so you can go home. It’s usually because I’ll stand at the airport terminal you are leaving from and cry, beg you to stay a little longer and then just cry some more as you walk away.

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, I had to do the dreaded dropoff. What’s even worse about family who has to get on an airplane to come see you is that they always want to take that first flight out.

I hope it’s because they want to get an early start on their day of travel and it has no reflection on the time they’ve spent at my house.

Not being a morning person, anyway, and someone who hates to be in traffic, I was a bit on edge while making my way to Will Rogers to drop off my brother and his family.

As we were backing out of the driveway, I informed my passengers — in a very unhostess like way — because of the heavy traffic, there would be no conversing with the driver on the way to the airport. There would be no conversing with anyone, actually.

From here, I guided the soon-to-be departed to simply put their hands in their laps and look straight ahead. I said I wasn’t much of a morning person.

Once we safely arrived to the airport and I dried my sweaty palms and wiped down the soaked steering wheel, I realized what was really going on here. They all were leaving.

This visit, like them all, just went too fast. My niece, now 13, is taller than me. My brother, in my humble opinion, is too skinny. And my sister-in-law and I just didn’t have enough time to talk about jobs and life in general.

It’s funny to see my brother with a 13-year-old daughter, especially considering that when I was her age, he was about 17 and had no time for me.

Although it’s exciting to see Sarah talk about her adventures in life, it’s amusing to see her take at least an hour in the bathroom “putting on her face.” Every hair on her beautiful head has to be perfect. I admire her willingness to look polished but want to so tell her that she doesn’t need that third coat of mascara; she’s perfect just the way she is.

One of the best parts about this visit was for the first time in many years, my entire family was here for my birthday.

Growing up, the big birthday celebration was having all of the aunts, uncles, cousins and whoever over for ice cream and cake. The ice cream usually came from the grocery store, but on those rare occasions, Mom would fire up the ice cream maker and bust out the rock salt to make her own.

The cake was special, too. I remember spending hours pouring over pictures of cakes that the baker, one of our neighbors, was able to create. It was a hard decision to make, but it was always a delicious one.

On the day of the big event, everyone would pile in our living room. This was the time everyone would circle around the birthday kid and watch them tear into the mound of presents. When you have a big family like mine, it seemed like there was such a celebration every month.

When you turn 40, the presents, thank goodness, change. Gone are the days of getting Barbies, Rainbow Bright or Strawberry Shortcake-themed items. Now, you get handbags and jewelry — an advancement in life that I fully endorse.

Also gone when you turn 40 is that Mom would clean up the mess after the party. It took me two days to put my house back together after everyone left.

But the memories, the inside family jokes and all the time we laughed about my dad singing during afternoon naps are still lingering around my head. Those images, us all crowded in my living room, are the best gifts of all.

Shana Adkisson



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