Celebrating Life and Offbeat Occasions

photobI like to celebrate offbeat occasions, or at least acknowledge them. For example, I celebrate the anniversary of my connection to the internet with a sacrifice to the online gods to ensure the safety of my travels in cyberspace. In other words, that’s the day I renew my virus protection. It’s also the day I celebrate the birthday of my online persona, “Pat Bertram.” (The persona I established then has now become the real me. Odd that. The name, of course, has always mine, or at least a version of it.)

And just few days ago I celebrated my father’s 35,000th day.

Years before these celebrations were other offbeat parties. One of the most fun was the long ago day my best friend and I had a birthday party for a tree. There is (or was, anyway. I don’t know if it is still there) a stunning elm in the corner of Denver’s City Park at Colorado Boulevard and Seventeenth Street. A plaque beneath the tree said “Shakespeare Elm: The scion from which this tree was grown was taken from the tree at Shakespeare’s grave at Stratford-on-Avon.” The plaque also noted that the tree was planted on April 23, 1916, which is exactly 300 years after Shakespeare’s birthday. (April 23, 1616).

How could such a momentous occasion not be celebrated? So my friend and I baked elm tree cookies, made a “pin the leaf on the tree” game, stirred up gallons of green punch, even baked a tree shaped cake with candles. We sent hundreds of invitations to friends, family, Denver notables, the media, but on April 23, only family and friends showed up. And two cops.

The cops stood apart from all of us, though they did nibble on cookies and take tentative sips of punch. At one point, one of the cops turned to the other and said in amazement, “They really are having a birthday party for this tree.” Apparently they had been dispatched to the site in case we were staging a drug rendezvous or some such. As it turns out, it was lucky that no one showed up. Since it ended up being simply a family picnic, we weren’t fined for putting on a public event without a license. Whew!

Another idea my friend and I had was for a restaurant in the mountains. I don’t remember much of those elaborate plans, but I do remember that the menu was going to feature Alferd Packer pancakes and democratic sausages. That still cracks me up.

Well, life had its own plans, and when we grew up, it flung us separate ways. Over the years I looked for her, but it wasn’t until recently, thanks to the internet, that we reconnected. (See why I celebrate my connection day? What a wondrous thing the internet is!) And now we are planning to meet in person next year.

I wonder if she still has that creative mind and wacky sense of fun? I wonder if I do?

At the very least, it should be a great celebration.

(BTW, I am on the left in the photo. My friend is on the right.)


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+