lazy hazy crazy days of summer

And now I’ll have THAT in my head all day, you’re welcome, self!

When I was a kid I had a parent at home (thanks, mom!) and so summer was eight straight weeks of zero planned activities. No daycamps, no constant outings to parks & playgrounds with a large wagon full of gear, no bucket hats with chin straps or SPF 60 waterproof PABA-free sunscreen…

(I honestly think summer is the season that we are all most nostalgic for, when we look back at our childhoods. I read a fascinating and depressing essay about “the death of childhood”, and it was talking about how the notion of kids just rampaging all over the neighbourhood from sunup to sundown (and beyond) really only lasted for a 40-year period. Two generations, max, and now if you let your kid ride their bike past your own block before they’re in high school you run the risk of being tagged a negligent parent.)


Our summer days usually consisted of breakfast, followed by the three hours of kid-appropriate TV programming that ran every weekday morning… then the TV was snapped off, we grabbed a PB&J, and from noon until 8 or 9pm we were on our own for entertaining ourselves.

We didn’t have fights over screen time, because after lunch the TV was news and soap operas until after supper, when it was reruns all evening anyway.

We all have more screen time now. It’s no good pretending we don’t. I’m sitting on my sunny deck right now, tap-tapping away on my laptop… but in the summertime, I’m certainly less inclined to be in front of a screen. I’m outdoors most of the day. I’m running after kids, wriggling my toes in the sand, bandaging skinned knees and sitting in the shade of my neighbour’s backyard maple tree with a trashy book.

I think most of you would say the same.

All of this to say that “Throwing It Back” is on hiatus until September. We’re going to squeeze every ounce of sunshine out of our summer, because in Canada it can start late and end early, and you don’t want to waste a moment.

We hope you’ll come back and hang with us again in the fall. In the meantime, wear sunscreen, eat Popsicles, remember that all you need for a bikini body is a bikini to wear on your body, and have a safe and wonderful summer break!



looking back, looking forward

Guys, this post is not going to be funny, or cute. This post is going to be pretty heavy. Trigger warning for homophobic language. If you just want to give this one a miss and come back next week, you can – but it feels important to me to write this. 

When I was in grade four, someone called me a “lezzie” for the first time.

It was a sixth grader that I barely knew. I didn’t really hear what he said. I thought he got my name wrong. I wondered why he thought my name was “Lizzie”, and why when I frowned at him, perplexed, him and all of his hulking friends laughed.

I chalked it up to stupid boys being stupid and went on with my day.

Over the years I got called “lezzie” a lot. And “dyke”. My sweet kind boyfriend of nearly two years got called a “faggot” constantly. I actually sat my dad down once and asked him to tell me all the horrible words he could think of for gay women and men, so I’d recognize the insults when they were hurled at my friends and I.

Here’s the crazy thing, though – I’m not gay.

I’ve never identified as anything but straight. Why were the insults so reliably hurled at me? Because my friends and I were kind of different, a little out there, bookish and smart and politically-aware at a time and place where those traits were not valued. Where the bright kids were feared, and made to feel strange, and unwelcome, and other.

It was messed up. And I took a lot of abuse because I refused to put up with it. I argued. I stood up. I was a loudmouth. I yelled at people who used homophobic slurs. At a candidates’ meeting at our school during a federal election campaign I asked the Reform Party candidate why they insisted on defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman even though I knew it would mean more name-calling, more shit written on notes and hurled at me in class, more whispered comments in the hallways, more rumours about my supposed Crazy Wacky All Gay All The Time Secret Homo Lifestyle.

I promised myself that I would never, ever let my kids grow up to be like that. That I would move heaven and earth to make sure my kids were accepting, to make sure that they knew in their bones that love is love.

Then came the terrible events in Orlando, when an angry, hate-filled, homophobic man took a deadly weapon into a place of acceptance & tolerance, and committed 49 acts of cold-blooded murder, all because he’d seen two men kissing and it “bothered” him.

I have cried. I have raged. I have yelled. I am angry. I am sad.

My kids are uncomprehending. They literally can’t compute that there are people in this world filled with so much hate that when confronted with love, they lash out in violence, try to annihilate it. It has been a rough couple of days for them, confronting this harsh reality head-on, and I fear I’ve done a  grave disservice by not educating them about the struggle our LGBTQ friends and family have undergone, about the challenges they still face.

Yesterday, when it all seemed too much, I sat with four preschoolers. We had play dough, and they were cheerfully making snowmen (snowmen are easy). The four year girl said “this is the mommy, and the daddy, and they have a lot of babies.” My four year old son said “I made two daddies, and this is their baby, who is ADOPTED.” None of the kids yelled that you can’t have two daddies. No one blinked. Four year olds, who as any parent can tell you are generally very rigid about “correct” roles, were totally cool with these different kinds of families, and I felt a tiny pinprick in the black despair as I watched them organize their lopsided crowds to go on a camping trip together.

Things are not perfect. We still have a long way to go. But in one generation, look how far we’ve come. Sometimes we look at our pasts through rose-coloured glasses. We’re sad because our kids aren’t free-range, because we all have to watch what we eat, because things were just better then, dammit. But they weren’t. For a lot of people and a whole lot of reasons, they weren’t.

I am still angry. I am still sad. But when I look back and see how things have changed, I also feel hope.


If the shoe fits…

I was busy researching the hottest styles for summer shoes, and despite what my husband might think, it actually WAS research for a reason other than shopping. I have more than enough shoes, really. In fact, I probably have too many shoes, but since I’m not (yet) rivaling Imelda Marcos, I think I am fine.

It got me thinking about shoe styles from the Eighties. I didn’t have that many shoes, probably because I was a kid and it’s expensive to keep up with all that growth. My own children, I should note, have two pairs of running shoes each (indoor and outdoor), one pair of sandals, and winter boots. That said, I did have some of these hot styles, and I coveted the rest.

Jelly Shoes

Pros: They came in many colours, so they could match any outfit. I had pale pink jellies to match a pastel striped dress. The dress itself was pale pink, mint green, yellow, and light blue, so I could have chosen jelly shoes in any of those shades, really, and would have still come out a pastel winner.

Cons: Jelly shoes were infamous for being uncomfortable. Wearing them for more than a few hours, especially on a hot, sweaty day, meant your feet would be a mess of blisters and redness.

Desert Boots

Pros: Everyone loved these boots and as I recall, they were pretty comfortable. And so versatile! You could wear them with jeans, skirts, stirrup pants…the sky was the limit.

Cons: They were actually pretty unattractive.

Those Little Flat Shoes With Bows On The Toe

Pros: These were actually pretty cute! Slippery, but cute. Again, very versatile, except that they didn’t go that well with stirrup pants. Skirts and rolled up jeans, though, were a perfect match.

Cons: Their cuteness was diminished with the propensity of our generation to wear them with giant slouch socks. That’s not really the SHOE’s fault, though.


Pros: If my grade seven yearbook is any indication, 75% of the population was wearing Keds or a knockoff at any given time in the late 80s. They were comfortable! Slip-on! You could wear them with slouch socks and bubble skirts!

Cons: They were mostly worn with NO socks which resulted in terrible foot odour. Not for the first time, I feel sympathy towards junior high teachers.

Cougar Boots

Pros: These were the go-to winter boots in my neck of the woods. There were many knockoff brands as well, but the general look stayed the same. They were comfortable, warm, and waterproof.

Cons: I can’t actually think of any. I find them unattractive, but no more unattractive than the average winter boot.

Duck Boots

Pros: These ankle boots were relatively practical on wet, rainy days.

Cons: They were ugly AF, as the kids say these days.

China Doll Shoes

Pros: Of all Eighties footwear, this is my favourite. I loved the look of these shoes, and I still do. I love Mary Jane style, I like that they are black, flat, and relatively comfortable. I had always thought they were called “Chinese Shoes” which seemed vaguely racially insensitive and weird. Yesterday, however, I found out that they are actually CHINA DOLL SHOES which makes so much more sense. All of my many china dolls had shoes like this.

Cons: The buckle was always breaking. They were cheap, in all senses of the word.

Did I miss anything? What did you wear on your feet in the 80s?

wanna go to the prom with me?

Last week Nicole wrote about graduation outfits, and how far they have come since we were still fresh-faced young ladies with our shoes dyed to match our dresses. It’s true – styles have changed dramatically, but that’s to be expected with the passage of time. What I find fascinating / horrifying about today’s prom is – brace yourselves, kids – the “promposal”.

When I went to my first high school prom, I was in grade 11 and dating a guy in grade 12. “Want to go to prom?” he asked, and I said yes because TRU LUV, ya’ll. He didn’t buy me flowers, and instead of going to the promised after-party with another couple we ended up driving out to the middle of nowhere and engaging in some heavy groping.

My own actual prom, I directed my poor hapless (different, younger) boyfriend around, directing him like I am Cersei Lannister and he was one of those little wooden figures on a flat world map of Westeros. His mother, an oddly old-fashioned person who never got to go to her prom, was fully on board and so we had a dinner at Bridgewater’s only fancy restaurant with a group of friends and a corsage with ribbons that matched my dress.

What I never had was the fraught, sweaty, anxious “will you go to the prom with me?” moment that Hollywood taught me to expect. I don’t know anyone who did. People either were already in a relationship and went with their significant other, or they went alone, or they didn’t go.

One thing that did happen at my high school prom was “the big entrance”. Most people drove up in their parents’ cars, or got dropped off, or whatever… but some folks went all out. There was a couple on the flatbed behind the shiny cab of a long-haul truck. Several couples came in flashy vintage cars driven by dads or uncles. I don’t remember any limos but I know they were a thing in Halifax around that time.

You made a big splash on the arrival, because that’s where the most people could see you.

So imagine my surprise when I started seeing creative, splashy, over-the-top “will you go to the prom with me” pictures going viral on social media. Go type “best promposals” into Google and sit back, amazed at what these kids came up with. It’s actually really sweet. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite promposals:


This one made me teary-eyed. Bless you, boys. You’re good people.


No one – NO ONE – in my high school was this smooth.




Even smoother. I WOULD MARRY THIS ONE.

People shake their heads and deride the current generation, but seriously? They have STYLE.


Lady in Red

On the weekend I was visiting with friends whose teenage daughter had just graduated high school. I looked at the photos and she looked absolutely gorgeous, with her flowing curls and her clingy, floor length lace gown.

“Grad dresses have changed a lot,” my friend said to me in what must be one of the truest statements of all time. Have they ever.

It’s grad season, and last Friday my husband and I were trying to figure out why in the world there was so much traffic on the way out to dinner, in the small city my in-laws live in. It was impossible to get parking, and it finally dawned on me when I saw a gaggle of teen boys in tuxedos and suits, that it was grad night. Smiling faces taking selfies, girls in sparkling gowns with their dates in matching accessories, it was a delight to behold.

When I was in high school, wrist corsages were a relatively new thing. No one really wanted to pin a flower onto their fancy dresses; it was much preferred to have the prickly elasticized lace wrist band with a coordinating flower. I am happy to say that girls still get wrist corsages; I was wondering if it was a thing of the past or not. I mean, I have no horse in this particular race, it’s not like I have a vested interest in the floral industry, but it was nice to see all the same.

But the dresses! The dresses. The dresses the girls are wearing now are red-carpet worthy. Perhaps they could even be described as Beyonce-worthy. The dresses we wore for graduation were certainly not of that caliber. My own graduation dress was a satiny red off-the-shoulder number; it was cocktail length and I completed the look with dyed-to-match satin shoes and handbag. It seemed very important at the time to have red shoes and purse that exactly matched my dress. Why, I am not sure. I can say for certain that girls don’t get dyed-to-match shoes and handbags anymore, and that is definitely not a bad thing.

Looking back on it, my red dress was just one in a long line of single-occasion-never-to-be-worn-again dresses – between that, bridesmaid gowns, and my own wedding dress, I have quite a collection of one trick ponies. All of those dresses – with the exception of my wedding dress – I had high expectations of; I thought that I would somehow incorporate them into future outfits. I’m not sure if I thought that I would have a much more gala-oriented life wherein long gowns would actually be required, or if I would somehow develop advanced seamstress skills to create them into something else entirely, but I have – needless to say – never again taken them out of the plastic bags in which they reside.

And so, as I looked at the girls in their lovely long and likely expensive dresses, I wondered if they had the same expectations. I wondered if they justified the money spent on their gowns by thinking that they would somehow, somewhere, wear them again. I hate to disappoint you, girls of today, but it is very unlikely.


So tell me: what did your grad dress look like? Do you have a collection of dresses that were worn once and then banished to the closet? 

this PSA brought to you by…

My eight-year-old tried to tell me the classic elementary school joke “how do you know an elephant was in your house?” (“there are footprints in the peanut butter”, of course) and after I dutifully laughed I said “that’s also how you track house hippos”.

You know when you refer to something that has etched a permanent groove in your brain and the person you say it to just stares blankly? And you realize you’ve dated yourself yet again because the reference is at least 25 years old?


So off to YouTube I went, and lo, it delivered. I showed my kids the House Hippo PSA, and they were as enchanted as I was every single time it aired during the Saturday morning cartoon rotation:

The House Hippo

If that little bit of whimsy left you feeling sad that house hippos are impossible, you are not alone. An entire generation of Canadians now trusts nothing and no one because if you were a certain age when you saw that for the first time, your heart remains just a tiny bit bruised that you will never find a hippo in a nest made of dryer lint.

A forgotten casualty of the million-channel age is the child-focused PSA. They were in heavy rotation in the 80s. No problem was too serious that it couldn’t be addressed by a 30 second spot marked by low production values, punchy taglines, and weirdly-aggressive characters.

Canadian Fire Prevention

There was a whole series of fire-prevention PSAs starring the old lady who lived in a shoe. I could only find one on YouTube, but it’s a doozy:

Everything about this is delightful. Her “horrified scream” sounds like a gasp. She almost calls the kids dummies. She has an entire cupboard full of cookies and candy because we hadn’t all decided junk food was irresponsible poison! I love it.

Play Safe

Another one that ran every commercial break during the entire Saturday morning block was this trippy bit of weirdness from the WarAmps:

I MEAN. I know the 80s were a more dangerous time, what with the free-range playing and whatnot, but where in the hell were we supposed to be finding the opportunity to jump off of buildings and monkey-climb through some sort of factory that makes rotary saws?


This one was one of the first PSAs I ever saw. I had a sticker for my lunchbox with the two aliens, and “I agree, Smedley” still flies out of my mouth fairly regularly even though the spot hasn’t aired since 1985.

Don’t litter

When I was brainstorming this post, Nicole suggested “give a hoot, don’t pollute!” I don’t think it aired on CBC (the one channel I had) because I don’t remember this bug-eyed nightmare fuel at all… on the other hand, maybe I just blocked it out of sheer terror. WHY IS THIS OWL WALL-EYED.

Don’t poison yourself, or something

This, friends, is the nadir of Canadian childrens’ PSAs. If you have never seen it, prepare to be amazed. If you have, I apologize in advance for embedding this damnable earworm in your brain.

I still remember most of the words to that wretched jingle. I have been known to say “yes, that berry might look good to eat” and then whisper “like a muffin or a beet” when I take small children on nature walks. When I was in high school, many of us had younger siblings who still watched children’s programming and so naturally, “don’t you put it in your mouth” took on a whole new significance. (Listen to it again, pretending you’re a 16 year old boy. Hilarity will ensue.)

Do you remember any of these? Were there others? Bonus points for sharing links in the comments!



Word To Your Mother

Do not get me wrong, I love living in this day and age, and I really do – for the most part – love social media. I mean, except for trolls, but who really cares about them? I didn’t even really like these trolls back when they were popular:


The more I look at that, the more disturbed I am. THEY HAVE PENCILS UP THEIR ASSES.

Anyway. This post is not about trolls, or how we used to spin those pencils to get their hair to point straight up. This post is about Mother’s Day.

As I was saying, I do love social media. If it wasn’t for social media I would have never met Hannah and Allison, and this blog would just be a blank page in the history of the Internet. But there’s a bit of a dark side to it as well, and I’m not even talking about the trolls who misspell everything in their quest to tell you that “your a stoopid bitch” or similar.

No, I’m talking about the expectations set up for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day used to be a day of poorly made breakfasts for mom, followed by homemade cards and school crafts. Maybe we pooled our allowance and walked to the Zellers store with our siblings and bought some bubble bath to go along with it, but that was pretty much Mother’s Day.

Did our mothers like it? Well. I’m thinking of a time when I made my mom a cup of coffee. I didn’t know how to use the coffee maker, but we did have instant coffee in the house. I had made hot chocolate before, so I assumed it was concocted in the same way. I topped up the four teaspoons of instant coffee with hot water and presented it to my mother. Like mother, like daughter, she loves her coffee and drinks it black, so she took a sip. She asked how many spoonfuls I had used, and blinked when I answered “four.” Then, dear reader, she DRANK IT.

God bless my long-suffering mother. Hannah told me of a Mother’s Day where her siblings got up at five in the morning, made eight slices of buttered toast for their mother, and then they put it in the fridge until she woke up three hours later. And she then consumed the eight cold, congealed slices of toast.

Nowadays we feel slighted if Mother’s Day doesn’t come up to our Pinterest-level standards. Go to the Internet and you can see how many women are dreadfully disappointed about Mother’s Day, how it didn’t come up to these standards we have created.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d take a spa day or diamonds any day. And I don’t want to eat three-hour-old cold buttered toast. Maybe it’s because my kids are getting older, and school-made cards may soon be a thing of the past, but this year I’m just going to enjoy my doily-lined construction paper card that I hope is coming my way.

I Was Dreaming When I Wrote This

I’m not the right person to be writing this post, and I wouldn’t have written one on my personal blog. I’m not a musical expert. I didn’t cyber-stalk Prince. I can’t tell you his favourite colour or the name of his childhood dog. I’m not really familiar with much of his music after Sign o’ the Times, which probably makes me the fakest of fake fans. But this is a throwback blog, and for a brief period in the 80s my friend Danielle and I were Prince-obsessed. For Christmas that year everything I got was purple – purple sweatshirts, purple sneakers, purple journal, purple hair accessories, and Purple Rain.
purple rain


He was such a fascinating bundle of contradictions, wasn’t he? Incredibly sexy growly lower-register and then that crazy falsetto. Tight suits made of lace – it was a little like Jimi Hendrix and Liberace were sharing a body.  Incredibly sophisticated lyrics that used 2 and 4 and U like twelve-year-old girls passing notes to each other – not to mention the obsession with… purple. Songs that veered between shocking filth (I was going to say Darling Nikki, and then went looking a little and to that I’d have to add most of the songs on Diamonds and Pearls, not to mention someone was talking about a Prince song about giving head, and I was trying to figure out if it was some complicated metaphor song, but no – it’s actually called Head) and sweet whimsical innocence (Starfish and Coffee, which I always loved even before I found out that he sang it ON THE MUPPETS in a skit that had A PRINCE MUPPET – you have to go to 4:58, I couldn’t find the one that started in the right place). One of my basic benchmarks for a celebrity that is a good egg is someone who doesn’t mind poking fun at himself – so, go Prince.

He just seemed great at doing his own thing. He wrote songs that were too dirty for the radio. He wrote a song called The Ballad of Dorothy Parker where he ordered a fruit cocktail. He wrote songs that you had to dance to. I had a corduroy raspberry beret. I danced to U Got the Look in a high school gym in Sault Ste. Marie on a debating trip. I went and saw Purple Rain and thought it was deep and meaningful. I went and saw Under the Cherry Moon and thought it was flaky and weird. Graffiti Bridge wasn’t even on my radar.

And yes, he was odd. He changed his name to a symbol and gave self-indulgently meandering speeches at awards shows. But he also did a crapload of philanthropic stuff and didn’t take any credit for it. And any time you saw him performing, he just seemed to be having a blast.

I’m not sad for me. One of the articles I read said that as long as an artist is still alive, you’re still the person you were when you first heard that song, and danced, or cried, or felt something too big to articulate. To me, that’s still true as long as the music exists. So I’m not sad for me. I’m sad for him, and his family and friends, and the music he never got to make. He punched a higher floor and I hope he’s in that world of never-ending happiness where you can always see the sun. We should all do a little partying like it’s 1999 in his honour.

say cheese!

I was at the playground with my kids yesterday and my four-year-old kept asking me to take pictures of things. This tree! Me standing next to this tree! That awesome slug! Me climbing this giant rock! Me hugging my friend! I cheerfully kept hauling out my phone and snapping quick shots, which he and the other kids would immediately demand to see, as if the fun thing they just did couldn’t happen unless they could look at it on a tiny screen.

My kids have a digital camera a friend of mine gave them. They use it constantly, mostly to make stop-motion animation films with Lego. They take literally hundreds of pictures, of everything. I saw my eight year old taking a whole series of pictures of his own feet once, just because he could.

This is so dramatically different from my first experiences with cameras, it’s almost unfathomable. It’s like explaining telephone party lines, or two-channel TV, or McDonald’s orange drink. My kids just have no frame of reference for it, and even I am taken aback when I realize how much has changed.

This was my first camera:


It was a hand-me-down from my mom. She gave it to me in the fifth grade, when I went on a week-long exchange trip to Ottawa. I’d never been out of the province before, so it merited such a momentous thing. For the entire week-long trip, I had one roll of film with 24 pictures.

You’d better believe I was careful about what I took pictures of! Only 24 shots! Jeepers, I can take 24 shots of the same tulip these days just to make sure I get it the way I want, casually discarding any that I’m not happy with while I’m still standing there staring at the tulip. There’s also a built-in flash in both my phone and my DSLR camera, which I can turn on or off, or adjust manually, or set to daytime / nighttime / low light / insect mode / WHATEVER SITUATION I CAN POSSIBLY BE IN.

Back in the day, kids, your average indoor snapshot had two light levels – overexposed or too dark to see. Ever wonder why our entire childhoods appeared according to the photographic record to happen outdoors? Yes, we were outside more, but it’s also because it was just easier to take half-decent shots in lots of natural light.

My second camera looked like this:


It took flash cubes. FLASH CUBES.


See how it says “four flashes in one”? So, you bought a package of three, and that gave you 12 flashes. Twelve. They were super-bright, and expensive, too.

In fact everything about cameras was expensive. The equipment, the film, the flash cubes… and all that did was give you the means to take the pictures.

If you actually wanted to see your pictures, well. You had to pay for developing. You could drop them at most drugstores and after a mere seven days, look at your shots. You could pony up big bucks to get three-day processing, if you were really in a rush.

There were also several services that allowed you to mail in your film and pay a much-reduced rate for processing, although that took weeks, plus you had the fun of nervously putting your wedding day / child’s first birthday / graduation film into the hands of Canada Post, hoping like hell that they’d arrive undamaged.

There was no guarantee with that service, either. Once my mom sent away several rolls to be developed and when they came back, every single picture was ruined – they’d mucked up the colour, and everything had a weird purple tint. We all looked like drowning victims. It was quite unsettling.

We are spoiled by technology in some interesting ways, aren’t we?


Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.

The other day Hannah’s son received a Save the Date for a birthday party. Save the Dates…they are not just for weddings anymore! Do I even have to point out that Hannah’s son just turned eight?

Well, it got us thinking about things that have changed in the birthday party scene since we were kids. It’s also timely since my birthday is next week and Hannah’s is the week after, so we have birthdays on our minds.

Now, I’m not going to be judgy about what kind of birthday party you want to throw for your child. I’ve done everything from inviting the entire kindergarten class to the gymnastics centre to having one friend over to eat cupcakes and play video games. I’ve hired a clown for a group of five-year-olds, and I’ve created an obstacle course in my basement for a bunch of preschoolers. The last party we had consisted of a dozen eleven year olds in my basement, hanging out, eating pizza and ice cream, and making so much noise that my dog hid in his crate for the entire four hours. So I’m not going to get all up in your grill about how you celebrate birthdays.

What I am going to do is reminisce about birthday parties of years gone by, before gift registries and Save the Dates, before Pinterest and ensuring every last detail was consistent with a “theme,” before every place in town, from the fire station to the children’s barber shop, advertised itself as a “great venue for birthday parties.”

In my neighbourhood, birthday parties generally followed the same schedule: guests would all arrive on time and would be ushered to a table where a craft was set up. The craft was generally decorating a party hat, but some friends whose birthday was near Christmas would have a cookie-decorating table. After the craft, a number of games would be played, such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey (and it actually was a picture of a donkey) and musical chairs. There would be winners to these games, and those winners would get a small prize. Not everyone was a winner! This is an important detail. Therefore, these games were taken seriously. We all wanted that candy necklace.

Post-games would be the food. Often parties would take place after school and therefore would push into the supper hour: food would then be Kraft Dinner and hotdogs, followed by a homemade birthday cake. Afternoon parties would feature chips and pretzels, and then birthday cake. I remember one party in which we all went to McDonald’s; whether the whole party took place there or only the food portion, I do not recall. I’m not sure what we would have done at McDonald’s other than eat, but maybe there was a party room that I cannot remember.

After eating, it was time for presents. My children have had parties where guests bring food donations in lieu of gifts, but back in the 80s that would have been unheard of. I think it was easier to buy gifts back then, because not every child had everything imaginable, which is what it seems like now. Also, simple gifts like new markers and a colouring book were greatly appreciated. After the gift opening, there would be time to actually play with the new gifts, or maybe to run around in the backyard if weather permitted, before our parents picked us up or – alternately – we walked home by ourselves.

There’s something to be said about this approach. My children have attended parties at laser tag places, movie theatres, gymnastic centres, bouncy houses, and community centres, but their favourite party remains the one they went to in our neighbourhood, in which they played games like Balloon Stomp, Freeze Dance, and Toilet Paper Mummy, and ate Jello Jigglers for dessert. There’s something to be said about the simple, old-fashioned birthday. Maybe – like acid wash jeans and Flashdance sweatshirts – it will come back in style.

As I said, it’s almost my birthday! And Hannah’s! For a birthday gift, we’d love it if you would comment and tell us your memories of childhood birthday parties. xo