Happy Birthday Writing Prompt

by Matilda Butler on February 5, 2013

Writing Prompt LogoPost #174 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompts and Life Prompts – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

memoir writing prompt about birthdays

Happy Birthday

As you may know, when I lived in Gilroy, California, I had a number of regular memoir classes. Once we put our home on the market in anticipation of moving to Oregon, I began to cut back on my teaching. However, one group wanted to continue to meet. Hum. How to do that? Once I got settled in Corvallis, we all decided to try doing a course via Skype. Bingo. It worked.

One of the class members, Cindy, volunteered to have everyone over to her home much as I had always hosted the classes in my home. And although the technology is never perfect, it definitely works.

Fast forward two-plus years. We continue to have our classes via Skype. And this past Saturday was our most recent one. Class members send me what they have written ahead of time so that I’m prepared with my suggestions. Meanwhile, each woman reads her vignette and everyone has a chance to comment.

memoir writing and birthday celebrating, writing prompts

On Saturday, when I phoned Cindy’s Skype, I thought something was a bit different. Everyone was around one end of the table where they always meet. However, I can usually only see one person at a time. “Can you see all of us?” said Cindy. As soon as I said I could, they all began to sing Happy Birthday.

What a surprise. Kris said, “But we have more.” I wasn’t sure what that meant and we started our class as usual. Then half way through we always take a tea break. I go downstairs and get a fresh cup and the class get refreshments and a chance to talk a little before we resume.

Fifteen minutes later, here came the second surprise:

memoir writing and birthday celebrating

Fortunately, they helped me blow out the candles. Notice the lovely candles — black and white with stripes and polka dots. Classy.

I had just opened a birthday card from one of my sons and so had to share it. I’m holding it up to the camera. It shows a little girl hiding her face behind her hand. She says, “Is she dancing now? I can’t look.” Then on the inside, it says, “Have the kind of birthday that embarrasses your kids.”

memoir writing and birthday celebrating

What a great card. And talk about liberating. Now I just have to plan something to do that will embarrass them. I’m busy thinking that up. Stay tuned.

A Birthday Writing Prompt

My birthday gift to you is a writing prompt. I hope that the photos have helped you recall some of your own birthdays.

1. What was your best birthday ever? Were you a child or was it a more recent birthday? Write about the year, where you were, who helped you celebrate. Most importantly, write about why it was your best birthday.

2. Turn this around. What was the best birthday you ever gave someone else? I remember a surprise birthday party I gave for my husband in the year or two after we married in 1970. I had good friends over and had carefully orchestrated the event. I had everyone come before he got home and had even asked them to park down the block so that he wouldn’t notice the additional cars. When he pulled up in his car, everyone hid and waited for him to walk in the front door, which he always did. Then nothing until I heard the sliding kitchen door open — a door that was at the back of the house. For some unknown reason, he had walked to the back of the house, past the garbage can where he saw a birthday cake I had staged outside since the kitchen was small. In years since, we’ve laughed about my “backdoor surprise.” I think he surprised me more than I surprised him.

So write about a birthday party you put together or even a surprise evening out to celebrate someone special’s birthday. Would you do it again? Maybe this is the year to plan a spectacular birthday party for yourself or someone else. Take lots of photos and then write a beautiful vignette about the event.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jenny Hazard February 17, 2013 at

How timely as I read this after returning from a lovely birthday dinner with my children and grandchildren. This birthday brought much love and some fun presents…but the best gift of all was something non material. I will send my blog, with the story of my birthday surprise, once it’s complete.
Peace and Happy Birthday to you!
Jenny

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