What is your favorite birthday memory from your childhood?

What is your favorite birthday memory from your childhood?

That could be a very challenging question if your memory is like mine and you often find it difficult to remember what you had for breakfast by mid afternoon that same day.

For some youngsters, a birthday highlight was a trip to St. Louis to see the Cardinals or maybe the Blues play. Possibly it was an excursion to the movies with some of your best buddies. Or maybe it was getting to spend the night at grandma and grandpa's house. I would hope there is a special birthday memory from your childhood stashed away somewhere in your head, if not your heart.

My wife, Nancy, posed that question to our youngest son, Jacob, last weekend during a trip to the Kansas City area to see his family. Jacob, whose birthday is in early December, said he recalls he and I going out and playing catch with a baseball on his birthday one year. While he has some other birthday memories, playing catch was at the top of Jacob's list.

Nancy and I had been invited to Jacob's home during the first weekend of March to participate in the birthday celebration of his oldest daughter, Evelyn, who turned 4 years old on March 4.

This year's birthday observance was to feature more than cake, ice cream and some presents. Jacob and his wife, Whitney, had big plans mapped out for their daughter's birthday. Apparently Evelyn has been frequently talking about wanting to ride a horse. Whitney had recently allowed Evelyn to ride on a carousel horse. Apparently my granddaughter enjoyed the experience so much she didn't want to get off. But Jacob and Whitney's desire was to give her the opportunity to ride upon an honest-to-goodness hay burner.

We had put them in touch with my nephew, Bill, and his wife, Schellie, who board horses and have a few of their own on their farm outside of Jefferson City. Schellie, who has considerable experience as a horse show judge, has for years taught riding camps for local youngsters who wanted to compete in that sport.

When we arrived in Kansas City late Thursday night Jacob and Whitney advised us that they had yet to tell Evelyn of their intentions regarding her birthday. Consequently we were encouraged to refer to what was planned solely as an "adventure." Specifics regarding the adventure remained a secret until some point during the 2 1/2-hour drive from K.C. to J.C. when repeated questions of "Are we there yet?" finally wore down Jacob and Whitney.

Following Jacob and Whitney on the drive to Jefferson City I couldn't help but wonder what Evelyn's reaction would be when the prospect of being placed on a full-sized horse was presented. I hoped for Jacob and Whitney's sake that their young daughter's reaction would not be "Sorry folks, but this isn't happening."

My concerns were quickly put to rest when Schellie took Evelyn by the hand, walked her to the barn and introduced her to a mild-mannered miniature horse named Jinx. Over the next half hour or so Schellie masterfully handled the situation by allowing Evelyn to get comfortable being around the small horse, then lead the animal, then sit on Jinx, before leading Jinx in a slow trot with Evelyn aboard. Evelyn's reactions to the experience were big smiles and giggles of delight.

I find it hard to imagine that in the future when asked her favorite childhood birthday Evelyn won't immediately recall when as a little girl she went on a big adventure.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.