Now They Are Thirteen


We interrupt my regularly schedule post about doing away with Columbus Day (see this link if you are curious) to bring a celebratory Happy Birthday to two very special grandchildren of mine:  Elijah and Isabella.


Thanks to for the image.
Thanks to for the image.


No, my sons haven’t added anyone new to the fold recently.  These are the cousins, born two days apart, that held up our Peace Corps application for over a year.


A very proud new Grandma.
A very proud new Grandma. October, 2003



It’s been two years since I first wrote about them here.  You can find that story, Now They are 11,  here.  It’s got photos of them at various ages, including the one with those hats I wrote about in my book, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe (available from your local independent bookstore or from Amazon for anyone new).  OK; moment of blatant commerce has passed.

Perhaps next year I’ll be in a better place to present my thoughts about Columbus Day.

For now, I need to focus on the really good things in my life, like my grandchildren.

Mikah will soon be 17. Elijah and Isabella arrived in early October, 2003. Then Elijah’s brother Raleigh, while we were in Kazakhstan; my trip home to meet him is in the book. Finally, Mikah and Isabella’s sister Kendall, in late October, 2006.  Mikah and Raleigh celebrate in December.

This week though, Elijah and Bella turn 13!

Neither one will get a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and I’ve told them some of what they are missing — at least I told them the party part.  I didn’t add the part about being treated as an adult or memorizing passages of the Torah to recite before 300 of their parents’ closest friends. Woody and I will just call them on their day and sing them Happy Birthday — in harmony.


Thanks to for the image.


How about you? How do you celebrate your/your grand/kids’ birthdays in your world?  


11 Responses

  1. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Columbus pales into insignificance when grandchildren have birthdays. He’s had enough celebrating for the last few hundred years to be getting on with and the young ones are far more important. So are their parents and grand parents, all of whom should be congratulated and celebrated for their contributions over the last thirteen years to bring the youngsters to this point.

    So Congratulations to you all, and Happy Birthday to Elijah and Bella. 🙂

    Anyway, what did Columbus contribute to all this? He just arrived one day and discovered somewhere that was already there. What’s so special about that?

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Indeed Ian. There are a number of reasons to do away with Columbus Day. One of these years I’ll get it all out on paper.

      Thanks for your good wishes.

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    We are on the same track here, Janet. Our first two grandchildren also turn 13 this year, Patrick this past Monday and Curtis 7 weeks later near Thanksgiving.

    Patrick didn’t ask for a gift in a package for his party this weekend – just a burger meal at Five Guys and a movie at the iMax theatre. At this age, he values experiences over things. I don’t know whether it’s wisdom or the fact he has everything his heart desires. Curtis will want a gift, and closer to the time, he’ll let us know what.

    When they were babies, I wrote them letters to be opened when they got older. They were sent to their parents with a postmark to show their vintage. Thirteen seem to be a good time to do a “reveal.” Now I wonder whether they still have them. (I shudder to ask!)

    You are blessed, Janet!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Marian, Your description of your two grandsons reminds me how very different each of mine are too. Do you get to join Patrick at the Five Guys and a movie?

      • Marian Beaman
        | Reply

        The hamburger and movie event will be a Grandpa-Patrick duo as I will be in PA for a while. I don’t mind . . . !

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    How sweet, Janet. I can understand wanting to focus on something happy and life-affirming. Happy Birthday to your grandchildren!
    It’s funny that you and Marian both posted about birthdays today.

    Yes, we always celebrate birthdays. I think Mr. Spock is wrong on this one. It is no more illogical than celebrating any other event. 🙂 February has always been birthday month here–my husband, both daughters, and my husband’s mother all have February birthdays. Mother-in-law will be celebrating her 80th this coming February.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Merril.

      80 is a big one. Good for her.

  4. Terry Bryan
    | Reply

    I’ll share mine since others may wish to copy. I celebrate two birthdays, one the day I came into the world and the other, the day I was adopted. At 70+ both are still important, even though I’m the only one celebrating the second one.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      How lucky you are, Terry. Two chances for socially-acceptable cake and ice cream. You do take advantage of that, I trust? Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I hope you’ll send me the dates of your two days; I’d love to join you in celebration.

  5. Pamela
    | Reply

    In my neck of the woods, our grandchildren’s birthdays are celebrated in full force by their parents. Every year they have 20+ kids come over to the backyard ( fortunately their 6 birthdays are in the summer ) and play, learn new tricks from the creature guy or the bubble man, eat birthday cake, and open gifts. It’s a bit much for me. I am more of a quiet birthday party kind of person. So my gift to them is a quiet day with me, shopping for a book and a small gift, and reading and playing cards at home with me. I suppose the gift is more for me than for them. ? But as you write so well here, we grandparents celebrate the lives of these magnificent grandchildren of ours. ?

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Pam, I too LOVE the times I can have a one-on-one with any of my grands. Each one is so different and with me living so far away still, I need these outings to help me keep knowing who they are, who they are becoming.

      My other challenge is that it’s odd for me to have so many; I was an only grandchildren and had just one grandparent. So, in this arena I am definitely not used to sharing. But share I must. Each of my grands have between 10 and 12 grandparents of one sort or another, what with remarriage and most of the greats still alive. It’s challenging to find my continued place in their very busy lives. But I’m up to it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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