In my household, we celebrated a bit differently. We aren’t Irish (although an Italian ancestor visited the Emerald Isle as a missionary way back when). While we had numerous decorations around the house, and usually corned beef and cabbage, the holiday was secondary to a much more important occasion: my mother’s birthday! (With a family friend’s birthday two days before, and my father’s birthday two days later, we always had some awesome celebrations that weekend! One involved a pony, another involved my father dressing up as Mickey Mouse.)
Coming of age during the Economic Miracle of the 1950s, “Steffi” (another friend had the same first name, and was known as “Rosi”) had an adolescence somewhat similar to teens in the United States. She graduated from a business high school, becoming an expert typist and bookkeeper.
Meanwhile, her older brother, the future Dr. Hans Steffen, was attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as a member of the first group of German-American Fulbright scholars. During the time my uncle was a student, my mother visited. While the details are shrouded in history, my father paid the siblings a visit one evening accompanied with some local spirits. German Gemütlichkeit and a legendary blizzard combined to create what we now call a long-distance relationship, which concluded in a fairy tale wedding in Hanover in April 1960. (Yes, a horse-drawn coach was involved.)
My pack rat tendencies might be genetic, as my father has an extensive “archive”. While my mother demanded cleanliness and discipline from us, she never participated in the legendary cleaning so many fans bemoan of their own mothers. (We had to do the cleaning ourselves, deciding what to toss and what to keep. I still have a box of dog-eared Gold Key and Harvey comics from the 1970s.) She frowned on my reading MAD Magazine, but never kept me from purchasing the monthly issues. (I think she protested just to give me some safe rebellion, although I knew what punishments awaited me if I truly rebelled.) When I was of legal age to buy Playboy, she tolerated that as well, as long as I kept them out of sight in my bedroom. Those magazines, and much of my childhood, resides in the basement of my parents house, a few yards away from my father’s “man cave” (more like a cubicle/corner in the basement, hidden away by bookshelves).
So, please join me in wishing my mother a happy 75th birthday! (And if you want, my father celebrates his 83rd on Monday!) And if your mother didn’t throw your comics out, why not give her a call soon and thank her?