It's traditional in Sweden to wake up the birthday kid with presents in bed before getting up to face the day. I find this a bizarre tradition since the last thing I want to be is cheerful at 7 a.m. with bedhead and morning breath, but since it's only 4x times a year I've managed to learn to live with it. In America, you are always made to WAIT...no presents until after school or after dinner, or the guests have arrived and been fed. In Sweden, the children rip their presents open the moment their guest enters the doorway and hands it over. In America, we were always forced to say thank you politely and then set it aside, to be opened all at once with the others, sitting like royalty in a chair, circled by our friends and relations who were forced to watch through the (sometimes) interminable process of opening, exclaiming over, and thank yous that accompanied each gift.
We sing the Swedish birthday song to Martin in the semi-darkness of the candle-lit dining room, "vi gratulerar lilla Martin idag!"* and he smiles and waves his hands in time. I have a cold and keep having to leave the table to blow my nose. My brother John calls and sings Happy Birthday to Martin. I can hear it coming from the receiver held loosely to his ear. Later, Karin talks, in English, to both John and Simone, and Anders' sister watches her with a fascinated look on her face, and then says to me, "I've never heard her speak English like that before."
Karin and I played Uno with Martin's new birthday deck. Unbelievably, I have never actually played Uno before. Probably because it came out and got popular after I was a teenager (I think...I don't remember seeing it before that, at least, and I can't find any date-of-origin information to confirm it), and I grew up playing Crazy Eights instead, which it was apparently based upon. Karin taught me the rules, or at least her version of the rules,...you know the ones,...they help HER and hinder ME from winning? Yes, those rules. Calling her cheater-peater didn't phase her in the slightest, she just grinned that maniac grin of hers and made me draw 2 more cards. :-)
The Biggest, Bounciest, BEST Birthday Wishes to My Not-So-Baby Boy, Martin!
*We congratulate little Martin today!