As a young man, my dad was the sole breadwinner for our family. He was a waiter in an upscale restaurant when I was young, but he left his position to become self-employed as a tree and yard man. Shortly after that, he started a home repair/modeling business. His new line of work was better suited to the needs of his growing family. He could now set his own hours and be more involved in his children's lives. He still had to work often to support the family, of course.
The flexibility of my dad's home-remodeling work made it possible to occasionally take a child to work with him. And so a new birthday tradition was born. Each birthday boy or girl would accompany my dad to work. From there, birthdays soon came to include a special trip to a store or restaurant. Then there were surprises. Some of my favorite birthday memories include hiking through the woods, racing go-carts, and participating in a three-mile race at Brookfield Zoo. Now my dad takes the whole day off when a birthday comes around.
When you belong to a large family, you quickly learn that the world doesn't revolve around you. Still, it was nice to know that each year, there was one day planned especially for you. We never had a lot of money, but we didn't know it. We certainly weren't deprived growing up and we always knew our parents loved us.