Saturday, March 28, 2020

To Aries is human

GROWING UP IN LAPLAND: Thats me sitting on my big
brother Tom's knee, at somebody elses birthday party
When I was a little boy, probably under 10, a version of the following conversation happened in the house we grew up in, sometime in late winter or early spring of whatever year it was.

Me: “Complain complain complain! Everybody gets birthday parties but me! Why do I have to wait all the way until September?

My mom: “Peter Frances Carter when your birthday comes around in September we’ll have the biggest party ever.

Knowing Huena (thats my mom’s name) she followed that with an improvised ceremony of adoration that might start with a song, in fact, this exact one:

Im in love with you, Peter, 
Say you love me too, Peter, 
No one else will do, Peter, 
Peter its true.

Huena with Mateus’ dad Michel. 
Looking back, I find it hard to believe that there is not one single syllable of exaggeration in any of the preceding story. My mom piled on the praise as if it were -- heres something not a lot of people know -- as if it were free!

Somewhere between being born in Port Hood Nova Scotia, and moving to Sudbury and giving birth to two kids for every decade of the rosary, Huena learned that compliments and reaffirmations can be doled out in dollops.

And heres something

All that love can be educational, too.

One of the reasons all my brothers and sisters and I knew how much a “peck is was because my mom used to sing:

I love you,
A bushel and a peck, 
A bushel and a peck and a hug around your pretty neck. 
A hug around your neck and a barrel and a heap.
A barrel and a heap and
I'm talkin in my sleep about you.
About you. 

MATEUS: Poster child for the famous
marshmallow experiment!
Huena sang that song so often that when I went to write out the words just now they were right at my fingertips. (I have a good friend named Larry Till who very recently revealed that he, too, knew how much a peck was early on because his grandma used to sing the same song to him. And get this:  Larrys one of the really swell guys on the planet--hes generous, funny, a heck of a writer... I believe Ive stumbled on to something here.)

But back to little boy me.

Me: “But I dont wanna wait until September!!!!

Enter my older brother Tom.

Tom: “Peter. My birthdays in May. Tell you what. You can have it. I dont need it any more. Then you wont have to wait til September.

Really happened.

Tom gave me his early-in-the-year birthday so I wouldnt have to wait for ages. Ill never forget that generous move. Tom was full of them.

So why am I telling you this now?

Because the time has come for me to pay it forward.

April 6 happens to be the birthday of some of my favourite people: My sister Charlene, my pal Willa Oaks, author, raconteur Ernest Hillen and last but most, Mateus Remy Carter Chaignet, my son Michels about-to-be-four year old embodiment of perfection.

But  you may have noticed that the whole world is not in birthday-party mode. All these early-in-the-year birthday celebrants are getting ripped off. (From my observation, everybody I know who was born on April 6 loves parties!)

So, in honour of my brother Tom who died earlier this year, I am handing my September 28 birthday over to the youngest of that bunch of party-loving Aries.

Me: “Mateus Remy Carter Chaignet, when your birthday comes around in September we’ll have the biggest party ever!


  1. Loved your story Peter. I'll fly to Halifax in Sept and celebrate with Willa. It'll be perfect

  2. My mother also sang that song. I will delay my August birthday to September to honour those who are missing present fun for delayed gratification and cake in the fall.

  3. My mother also sang that song. I will delay my August birthday to September to honour those who areusding present fun for delayed gratification and cake in the fall

  4. What a joyful picture of Grandpa and Grandson in the park!

    In the spirit of delayed birthdays I will shamelessly copy and paste the first verse of a timeless classic which immediately came to mind upon seeing that shot.
    Happy Birthday in advance to both you and the young lad!

    " May God bless and keep you always
    May your wishes all come true
    May you always do for others
    And let others do for you
    May you build a ladder to the stars
    And climb on every rung
    And may you stay forever young.
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young "
    - Bob Dylan