It is a fortuitous occasion when a person becomes an octogenarian; however, due to the pandemic, I was unable to have a large birthday party for my husband’s 80th birthday. A celebration this year would have to be different, as we are all wearing masks, sanitizing, washing our hands, and avoiding crowded areas.

The morning of my husband’s birthday, I called our son and daughter-in-law, and asked if they would like to come over in the evening, have cake and ice cream, and sing “Happy Birthday” to their dad. I baked a cake and frosted it with chocolate buttercream icing, and it looked delicious. Placing several short candles on the cake would have to be sufficient, as 80 candles would not fit comfortably and might set off a fire alarm in our home.

My son informed me he and the family would be happy to attend his father’s very informal birthday party; however, he felt it would be unsafe for us all to congregate in the house – too dangerous. We could meet in the garage, he told me. My husband had two electric heaters we could use, since the temperature was 26 degrees outside – cold. We swept out the garage and cleaned it up; and I placed a flowered tablecloth on the workbench, set the table with napkins, cutlery, and cups. I also placed some lawn chairs around for us all to sit comfortably and be socially distant.

Soon everyone arrived dressed in warm jackets. Standing in the garage with gloves, masks, and hats, we all looked like bandits planning a heist! I was told I would have to leave the garage doors open for ventilation. When I brought the cake out covered with candles, my daughter-in-law told me: “Oh no! You can’t blow out candles. Coronavirus is spread by breath in the air!” I hadn’t thought of that! While I removed the candles, I held the knife to cut the cake and my son exclaimed: “Use a napkin around the knife, and you can’t touch the cake!” Good grief!

I had plastic gloves in the house, and I suppose I should have worn them. Giving my son a napkin and some plastic gloves, I asked him to cut the cake.

Perched precariously on the generator was a half gallon of vanilla ice cream, and I knew I didn’t need to worry about it melting. It was cold in the garage especially with both garage doors open and the wind blowing. We all sang “Happy Birthday” through chattering teeth, while I poured juice into the cups and passed them around. No ice cubes were necessary! By this time, my feet were getting numb.

While I doubt any germ could have lived and multiplied in the arctic conditions inside our garage, I was happy we all had a chance to celebrate our oldest family member becoming an octogenarian. May this new year offer an opportunity for everyone to emerge from our seclusion and to experience pandemic-free living.

— Special to the Telegram

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