Capturing the Wish: When Visions of Happy Things Swirled in our Heads

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Life | 38 comments

When I was growing up, birthdays were always festive.

birthday laughter collage_opt

 Check out the wrapping paper–the comics!


My mom usually made an ice cream cake, and decorated the birthday girl’s/boy’s bedroom doorway with streamers. Sometimes we celebrated at the dining room table with the “fancy” blue china.

And we took photos like this:

 Patrick blowing birthday candle Collage_opt

Capturing the Wish


Looking at these pictures, I realized we captured the secret wish moment.

A wish (or two), a deep breath, and then hopes are launched…

Easy Bake Ovens, ponies, unrequited crushes turning requited,

love, health, and peace…

Our heart’s desires

some found

others suspended, floating in a moment

where visions of happy things swirled in our heads.

birthday candle blow Collage_opt

And the tradition continues…


What are your birthday traditions? Have you ever wrapped a gift with the comics?

Happy Monday!






* This post is dedicated to my daughter who turns 228 months this week.  :)







  1. Sweet! I have no special birthday memories at all, and I think these traditions are important!

    • It’s interesting to me how tradition becomes more important the older I get. I’m not sure I clung to it so much when i was a kid, at least not that I remember. I’m glad for it now. Thanks, Joanna. :)

  2. Awh Happy Birthday to your dauighter, Coleen. I can’t get over how alike you all look blowing out those candles.

  3. Great pics! We do birthdays up big in our family. It’s always a chance for a family gathering — there are a lot of us — and we all love a night of frivolity and libations. :) One thing we did for about a year is the birthday person (or persons as we sometimes have to combine) would choose a color and we’d all wear that color. We would then take a large group picture. It was pretty cool because now we have all these coordinated family photographs.

  4. Love those birthday pictures, Coleen! You’re right. They capture the secret wish moment. I still get a kick out of making a wish and blowing out birthday candles. I also love singing Happy Birthday off-tune to others.

    Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    • Thanks, Pat. Do two off-tune Happy Birthdays cancel each other out?? :)

  5. Happy Birthday to your daughter, Coleen! Those pictures are fabulous (and could be replaced with mine, including the comics wrapping paper!). I loved birthdays when I was a kid. They were simple affairs, but special. I used to do a huge party each year for the kids, but they decided that ten was the magical age to stop having big to-dos. I miss those parties. I would theme them and make the whole house like the party theme. Now, it’s a simple thing, which isn’t a bad thing. Aw, you’re making me nostalgic for the good old days, but I’m not sure which ones! Mine, or the kids… ;)
    Tameri Etherton recently posted..A Mini-Retreat With Some Real CharactersMy Profile

    • What about a big to-do for your birthday?? I should do the same, because I never did get that Easy Bake oven…

  6. Happy Birthday to your daughter! Yes, we used to wrap our gifts in comics, haha. Now I just throw gifts in a lovely gift bag with some pretty tissue paper and I’m ready to go. :)

    • The gift bag is really an awesome invention. :) Thanks, Kate.

  7. Fun post, as always, Coleen! My family always had birthday gift hunts. The whole family, other than the birthday person, wrote clues then hid gifts all around the house. The pursuit was often at least, if not more fun, than the actual presents.
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Problems with Steve Harvey’s 90 Day (Sex) RuleMy Profile

    • Gift hunts are so much fun. I agree that the pursuit is half the fun! Thanks, August.

  8. Your birthday photos look very similar to my family’s! Only you are a much better photographer than me. :) Many of our presents were wrapped in the Sunday comics when I was a kid, and I’ve done a few of those myself back when I still got the paper. Why spend all that money on wrapping paper? :D
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..My Town Monday: A Useful Tool from DaytonMy Profile

    • It’s been a long time since we had the Sunday paper, but my new thrifty wrapping plan is saving and reusing gift bags and tissue paper!

  9. Aw! What a sweet post! And how wonderful that you have all those pictures across generations capturing the wish! Happy 19th? to your daughter (I am exceedingly bad at math so apologies if I’m off :))

    • Thanks, Susanna! Your math skills win you some virtual chocolate. :)

  10. What a lovely birthday post. Such great photos. I like intimate family birthdays, over big parties. And, I didn’t like cake and always demanded a strawberry rhubarb pie. Wishing your daughter a happy birthday!

    • I do like pie. A lot! Maybe for my next birthday I will have both pie and cake. Why not?

  11. I love the pictures and thinking about captured wishes. Happy birthday to your daughter. (I wasn’t brave enough to try the math). Traditions? Well, growing up with my twin we had small birthdays – cake (beautifully decorated by a neighbor), friends and maybe potato chips. Kool Aid (I’m pretty sure). Since I had a twin, it was always a single birthday with double the fun. Now, my son’s birthday is one day before mine, so I get cake two days in a row!
    Stacy S. Jensen recently posted..Writing from the Peak: RevisionsMy Profile

    • Cake two days in a row? Now that’s a celebration! I love that you said you had double the fun, even though you shared a bday. I imagine that must be a special twin thing, because I’m wondering if it would work the same way with non twin siblings sharing the same birthday!

  12. Those pictures are great. We have accumulated lots of birthday pictures over the years, but none of the actual wish-making moment.
    Ruth Schiffmann recently posted..Catching Up: Three Quick ReviewsMy Profile

  13. Happy Birthday to your daughter! Fun family pictures. We always had a cake, sang Happy Birthday, and blew out the candles. My Italian grandmother always re-lit one candle for good luck and long life and we let it burn till the end.
    Phil recently posted..More spam craziness! The strangeness never ends!My Profile

    • I’ve never heard of relighting a candle. That’s a really cool tradition, Phil! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Many happy returns to your daughter, and may her dreams come true! (I’m hazy on the Math, but it spells forever young to me ;) ). Birthdays growing up were a small, family affair. Lots of gap tooth pictures, with home baked cakes sprinkled in hundreds & thousands, as I recall… :)

    • Yes, it’s super young, but with a liberal sprinkling of so-new-it-still-sparkles maturity. :)
      And I love gap tooth pictures!
      Thanks, Alarna!

  15. Those are classic photographs! Happy birthday to your sweet daughter.. may all her wishes come true!! xx

  16. Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter. I never celebrated birthdays (or holidays) until I was an adult and living in my own house so there were no traditions. I do enjoy getting cards though, especially in the mail, not the FB wishes or e-mail cards, I like the real honest to goodness cards in the colorful envelopes from – gasp – a store and that arrive in my mailbox. So I’ve sort of started that tradition.

    As always, a very thought provoking post.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..” . . . There Is More To Be Done, Than Can Ever Be Done . . .”My Profile

    • I was always a big pen pal type of person, loved going to the stationary store to pick out paper. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of interest in people wanting to send each other snail mail (as a novelty thing). Sounds good to me!

  17. We had homemade chocolate cake and ice cream. I don’t remember presents. It seems like bubbles were more important back then!

    • Homemade cakes are the best…and not much could beat bubbles when you’re a kid. :)

  18. I love this tribute to your daughter–and counting it out in months made me smile. My aunt always wrapped our presents in comics as a kid. I could always pick out her gifts and thought they were the best. Very nostalgic.

    • Comics really are so nostalgic!! Thanks for stopping by, Charissa. :)

  19. What a beautiful thought! I wonder if anyone has actually captured the wish photographically – perhaps a little glittery ball of light floating away? I adore how I could pull out my birthday pictures from the 80s and find nearly exact replicas of yours. Happy birthday to your baby :)

    • Thanks, Lauri! Do your photos have the homemade cakes or the permed hair? Or both? :)

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