Birthdays

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When the day finally arrived the preparation of the table was the most important thing. Aunts , grandmothers, neighbors and friends all had a part in it. Somebody had already rolled out and ironed the nice table cloth, then they would start placing trays of docinhos all around the table with handmade decor that had taken weeks to be done. The cake, which was the most important piece, had been ordered from “the cake maker” or “boleira”, this piece would take the center stage.

The theme for the party was whatever the birthday child wanted. Most of the time being inspired by a fairy tale. After I learned what I liked, mine was always a cat form for so many years.

After a shower we would dress up in that pretty dress made just for that day. The prettiest bow on top of the highest and tightest ponytail. White socks coming to the knees and a shinny pair of white shoes.

The party would start around 7:00 or 8:00 pm. The music was playing and I was turning 4 that day. We danced and danced. Older boys, age 8 or 10, would invite the girls like me to the dance floor. It was a time when hours didn’t mean anything. We had the whole life ahead of us and never had to plan anything besides who we wanted to sit next to at the dinner table.

Running, dancing, drinking pop from a bottle with two paper straws rolled in strips of red and white, becoming mushy after many bites. Salgadinhos were appetizers and were made in amounts to feed the whole party and send some home with the guests. Docinhos were the bite size sweet treats made of chocolate, cream and crystalized fruits.

When was time to sing happy birthday, a chair was quickly placed behind the table, where the birthday child would climb and pose behind that artisanal cake. Another two dozens of kids would pile around for the birthday song and pictures. A professional photographer was hired for the night, capturing all the action, the guests and family. Nights were long and the parties had no time to finish, it was over only when the last guest decided to leave.

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