I am all about modern safety features in the car … I always wear my seat belt, I think airbags are a brilliant invention, and I don’t speed excessively … but one of my fondest memories involves none of the above in a moving vehicle.
Twice a year (for my birthday and for my brother’s birthday), my parents would put all the seats down in the back of our Grand Torino station wagon – creating a flat, slippery surface in place of seats. All the birthday kids would pile in the back – an unlimited number because, obviously, there were no seats.
My dad would speed through our narrow, hilly neighborhood streets. He would evoke screams of laughter as he would slam on the breaks or take a turn too quickly. We would literally tumble over each other in the back – bodies flying forward or towards the side of the car. We thought this was hysterical. My mother would put a nervous hand on my dad’s shoulder, but they both knew that this was part of the birthday ritual. We loved it.
We now know more about car safety and this birthday ritual would never happen. When my kids had birthday parties, we had to coordinate car seats, booster seats, enough seats. I have passed down many of my family’s traditions, but (sadly?) the wild birthday ride has been retired!