About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Sunday . . . er, Monday Singalong - Cut the Cake

 It's been a long day following a longer day that followed still a longer day . . . but, with a few naps under my belt (or head), I am ready to write up my Sunday Singalong. Well, I would have been, 24 or more hours ago. However, my topic today is inspired by an upcoming date that, for some reason, is looming larger than ones in years past. So, I turn 72 on May 25. When I think of that date, I immediately think of my brother, 6 years my senior, who was born on July 4 (we are a patriotic family . . . there have been rare times when my birthday fell on the day we now recognize as Memorial Day). Anyway, dealing with the summer heat & humidity of Chicago had to have been difficult for my mom, but she still went ahead to have her much wanted second child (actually, she tried to show up a couple of years earlier, but that was not to be, so it became my turn). But having me in May meant that Mom was not to suffer pregnancy and hot/humid summer weeks at the same time (at just less than 3 months before she would turn 40 years old). So I show up, with much fanfare. OK, Mom said her first utterance when she was shown her hoped for daughter was "ugh." Actually, that was much better than some things I'm fairly certain she would have wanted to say to or about me as I battled with those glorious years between about 13 and 18. 

Anyway, the obvious song that comes to mind with the topic of birthdays is that horrible, allegedly most famous of all songs, that people insist on singing (so often off key) when the cake comes out. I heard it more than enough. When I was a kid, until 1968, my grandfather (whose birthday was May 20th) and I had a joint family celebration at the Sunday dinner between our two birthdays. Sadly, on our last (1967) birthday dinner, for reasons I didn't understand at the time, the family celebrated my grandfather's natal day separate from mine. I was terribly upset as that was something he and I had always shared. He died on April 4, 1968, so there was no opportunity to right that wrong. But I think of him, every May (and April . . . and March . . . well, he's never far from my mind . . . we were close).

So, what songs are sung to recognize the birthdays in your family? We have been partial to John McCutcheon's performances of Tina Liza Jones's "Cut the Cake." What, don't know it? Oh, dear. Well, give a listen:

Cut the Cake, Live recording, 2016, on YouTube, John McCutcheon

Your turn . . . songs about birthdays??

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