My mother called a couple of days ago to tell me about the plans for her birthday. My father celebrated his eightieth birthday the day after Thanksgiving and, about seven weeks hence, it will be my mother’s turn.
She wants to make a weekend of it in the Bay Area, as two of her grandchildren live there. My sisters live out-of-state; although they were here for my father’s birthday in November, it is unlikely that they will return. So there’ll only be a few of us, but at least we’ll be together, which is what matters in the end.
I soon learned the real reason for my mother’s call, however. She wanted to find out what we are doing for my own birthday.
“Nothing that I know of,” I told her. I usually don’t make a big deal out of my birthday. My wife and I go out to dinner, we order dessert, and I am perfectly content.
However, my mother thought that perhaps there were plans for a birthday celebration that she hadn’t heard about. I assured her that I’d let her know if anything developed. Turns out my parents, who live 3½ hours away in California’s Central Valley, want to come visit.
Well, wouldn’t you know, as soon as I mentioned this to my wife and Pastor Mom, they started making plans for a birthday dinner in my honor.
They asked me what I wanted.
Well, I began, the simplest thing would be for us to go out to dinner somewhere. Most restaurants serve meat, fish and veggies, so there’d be something for everyone. With our extended family, however, there are quite a few of us and the cost would likely be prohibitive.
In that case, we decided, we can just make dinner at home.
“What do you want?” my wife asked.
I didn’t even have to think about it. “What I really like,” I told her, “is that broiled tofu you make for me.”
She made a face. No, no, we have to think of everyone else. I’m the only one who will eat that vegan stuff.
“How about potato soup?” Pastor Mom offered.
“Yes,” my wife agreed, “we can make vegan potato soup.” When my mother-in-law prepared a big pot of potato soup a few months ago, she made a separate batch for me using soy milk. It turned out to be really delicious.
This sounded like a plan. Bacon and cheese on the side for everyone else. Some good French bread.
“Or we could make sandwiches,” Pastor Mom offered. I had to nix that idea. My mother won’t eat deli meat unless it’s kosher, nor will she eat my vegan “deli slices.”
“How about spaghetti?” I suggested. All of us agreed on that one and I felt that we were set. Pastor Mom makes an incredible spaghetti sauce that’s full of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms. My wife doesn’t like veggies, but she agreed to pick them out. We’ll have garlic bread and salad. Done!
Then Pastor Mom mentioned that cleanup is a real bear when there’s all that sauce everywhere. Pots and dishes have to be scrubbed.
So back to the drawing board we went.
“Hot dogs!” my wife suggested, then noted that it was a rather plebeian meal for a birthday celebration. But I don’t mind. I’m satisfied with pretty much anything.
We determined that this would work out. Everyone enjoys Hebrew National hot dogs, and my mother will eat them. Vegan soy dogs for me, of course. Chili and cheese on the side for those so inclined. And homemade macaroni salad (this time it was my turn to make a face).
My mother-in-law will make pies for dessert — a vegan, sugar-free chocolate pie for me (my favorite), as well as a lemon pie and a coconut crème pie.
Who says you have to go out for an expensive dinner to have something for everyone?