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Andrea Langworthy's column: Party hearty

Do you have a favorite month? Mine is July. The festivity starts on the first with my brother’s birthday and continues until nearly the end when my twin granddaughters celebrate their big day. In between, two brothers-in-law, a cousin and numerous friends blow out the candles on their cakes. I hate to bid good-bye to July. Mostly, selfishly, because right smack dab in the middle of the month is the day on which I was born.

My parents made a big deal out of their children’s birthdays. Even when I was at summer camp, Mom and Dad sent a package full of treats for me to share with my cabin mates and counselor. The best part was inside a box nestled in the center of the carton — an angel food cake drizzled with pink icing. “Happy Birthday, Andy” was written across the top.

A friend of mine, whose birthday is the day before that of our country, once told me her parents led her to believe the neighborhood parade and fireworks on July Fourth were in her honor. No one ever told me that about the Minneapolis Aquatennial but the proximity of the festivities to my birthday was a bonus I took advantage of for years.

When my children were young and my then-husband asked how I wanted to celebrate the occasion, my answer was always the same: go out to dinner with the kiddies the day of but have the real celebration the Saturday before or after when the Aquatennial parade was held. And, of course, because my birthday was such a big deal, the party continued until the final firework fizzled.

Recently, I reminded my son of the surprise party his dad had for me when I turned 32. I worked that Saturday but I was the early person so I could leave an hour ahead of everyone else. I called to tell my family I was on my way home. My then-husband made up a story about our children needing tennis rackets. Told me he’d seen some at a store not too far away and asked if I would pick them up.

I’m sure I asked, probably not too nicely, why he hadn’t gotten them when he was there. He must have come up with a plausible reason because I headed to the store and arrived home an hour later.

As I walked from the entryway towards the living room, a chorus of “surprise” nearly knocked me out of my shoes. I was in a daze as I stared into the faces of friends and family who had started singing happy birthday.

There was no element of shock or amazement at this year’s party because I orchestrated the entire thing. It would be just my husband and me for dinner. A tasty meal he picked up earlier in the day, some nice wine, a dessert to share and a movie were all I needed.

Just a simple evening — the perfect ending to a more than perfect day that included a dozen phone calls from family and friends, a stack of birthday cards and so many celebratory comments, posts and messages on Facebook that I lost count.

It’s a good thing it was to be only the two of us that night. My head was so swelled from all the attention I’d received, no one else could have fit in the room.