My Birthday.

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My birthday is Christmas Eve, which always causes both celebration and reflection for me.  Birthdays are a milestone that bring joy and memories of so many birthdays past.  As I mentioned, when I was born, my Grandparents started a tradition of celebrating my “half” birthday as well.   They didn’t want my special day to be overshadowed by the holiday.  At church, for Christmas Mass, when I was a child my Mom would always embarrass me and say to the Priest, say Happy Birthday to her!

As I grew into adulthood some still celebrated my half birthday, thank you, Chris Cotteleer.

As life went on that tradition faded, though I still try to remember my niece Paige’s half birthday on June 23rd and Samantha and Connor’s on the 30th and 21st.

I like to make other people’s birthdays something special because I know what it’s like to have your birthday as an afterthought or even forgotten. Because of the many times when people say “Merry Christmas and oh yeah, Happy Birthday too”, it means so much to me when friends and family take time out from the holiday bustle to do something special for my birthday.

This year, I asked Dan if I could do what I wanted to do for my birthday, instead of running around and doing things for the holidays and for his family…..I really wanted to design a day just for ME this year. I woke, had coffee and breakfast in bed with Dan and Christopher, spoke with my family in Chicago and had a relaxing morning of meditation and a power nap.  We went to my favorite sushi place Ginban for lunch and then I went and had my hair done, a nice relaxing day.  At 4:30 we went to church for Christmas Mass and then went over to Courtney’s house for our big blended family Christmas celebration.

We do a blended family celebration every year and it’s always a lot of fun!  I just adore Courtney’s family and now we have added her new husband, Mac’s family  and kids to the celebration as well.  It’s crazy and it gets bigger and better every year as we settle into our roles and our relationships become  deeper and more comfortable.  The first few years here in New York were very, very hard for me.  I hated being away from my family and friends in Chicago, especially on my birthday and Christmas, but I am a big believer in “Blooming Where You Are Planted” and I have learned to embrace our loving and unique family here in New York.

One tradition that we have is to do a “Secret Santa” – the thing that makes our Secret Santa so great is that each person stands up and says something special about the person that they bought the gift for.  It makes for a lot of laughter and happy tears, it’s quite touching at times.
This year Dan stood up and did a 12 Days of Christmas, year in review.  That really had us touched, moved, crying and laughing.  My husband, leave it to him to bring down the house. 🙂

Here is a summary of what he said:

12. Welcoming two new additions, Friday and Colby!
11. Mark Banta great new job, Linda works great campaign, her positive nature
is contagious, lands Big Account and Isabelle and Garrett doing great in school.
Excellent neighbors!
10. Dan winning MVP of the fall ball, a big party he created in 1996. As you know,
he lost the rights in the divorce.
9. DJ in a great place, cheers brother.
8. Jack, Eve, Sam, Cassie, Connor, Hope and Christopher…all healthy, happy kids
and doing great in school. Very proud of all of you. You are all amazing kids!
7. Ed and Anne, two great people, right at ease, becoming a wonderful new
addition to the Menzel Empire.
6. We cheers and remember Juliette’s mom tonight. Juliette turns 50 and she
looks really amazing. I have always had my eye on you, kid!
5. Bobby and Leslie remain the top aunt and uncle combination in the family.
Their generosity, kindness and love are unmatched.
4. Sissy remaining the #1 mom, #1 mother in law and #1 ex-mother-in law…she
still is so hot. I will always desire her. As many of you remember, the only reason
I married Court was to get to the lovely Mary. Don is a wonderful dancer!!
3. Courtney and Mac married.. And if you were not at the wedding, it’s available
on pay-per-view or DVD. Netflix will begin streaming it on January 1st
year anniversary of the wedding will be air on Oxygen, Bravo and NBC and you
can also go to for bloopers and footage.
2. Mary diagnosed with breast cancer but having great courage and strength to
fight and conquer and beat it and is healthy now. Amazing strong woman you are,
1. The fact that every one of us is in this room… with all the change, tough times,
good times, laughs, cries, can all accept each other and love each other. But most
importantly, every one of us is there through thick and thin for each other. We
always support each other and grow as a big blended family.
Thanks Dan…….you are truly amazing.
Also, MANY thanks go to Courtney and Mac for stepping up and hosting this year, it meant the world to me!