We’re Cooking Up a Happy Pandemic Birthday

by Sep 3, 2020Holidays3 comments

We're cooking up a happy pandemic birthday for my mom who turns 92 today. Follow this recipe to do the same for someone you love.

We’re cooking up a happy pandemic birthday for my mom who turns 92 years old today. Her residential care facility has been closed to visitors since March, so a big birthday bash is out of the question. Even so we’re cooking up a happy pandemic birthday celebration like none other. I’m sharing the recipe in case you’d like to alter the ingredients as needed and whip up a party for someone you love, too.


1 birthday girl who had to have her teeth cleaned every three months because she doesn’t like to brush her teeth anymore
2 of the birthday girl’s children who care about their mother’s original set teeth, which are all intact
1 global pandemic
1 shut down of all but essential services1 residential care facility devoted to protecting residents from COVID
1 reopened dentist office rescheduling appointments far into the future
1 Culver’s restaurant drive through window
3 face masks
3 party hats
1 bottle hand sanitizer
1 package sanitizing wipes
2 smart phones

Assembly directions:

  1. Call the dentist office as soon as your governing body allows dentist offices to open. Ask to reschedule your mother’s teeth cleaning as soon as possible because she missed her previous appointment.
  2. Discover that the first available slot is three months in the future. Reluctantly schedule the appointment, which happens to fall on your mother’s birthday when you discover the next available slot is several weeks after that.
  3. Tremble violently when you think about breaking the news. It’s not going to be pretty because your mother she hates going to the dentist.
  4. Wait until the realization dawns that taking residents from the care facility to medical appointments is the only way to spend considerable time in the presence of your mother, so you will actually be together on her birthday.
  5. Dance with joy, then call your mother and tell her about the appointment. Before she can complain, tell her, “We’re cooking up a pandemic birthday celebration.” When that doesn’t impress her promise that after she gets her teeth cleaned, she can have ice cream. Agree when she says, “That’ll be nice.”
  6. A few weeks before the appointment, tell the care facility staff about it. Run around like a crazy person taking pictures of family members and whatever will be of interest to her: flowers, house projects, scenery, etc.
  7. Join your sibling at the care facility. Put on face masks and party hats before a staff member brings your mother to the entrance. Sing happy birthday when she arrives. Offer her a party hat and put it away when she refuses.
  8. Drive to dentist office and while waiting in the car until she can go in, show her pictures on the phone.
  9. Before she goes inside, remind her about the ice cream so she’ll be nice to the dental hygienist and dentist.
  10. When the appointment is over, immediately drive to Culver’s and order her a dish of ice cream, also known as frozen custard.
  11. Use hand sanitizer while waiting for the order to be filled.
  12. After picking up the order, wipe the dish and spoon with sanitizing wipes, and hand it to the birthday girl.
  13. Find a shading parking place and open all the car windows so she, but no one else in the car, can remove her mask and enjoy her ice cream.
  14. While she eats, show her any remaining pictures on your phone.
  15. When she’s done, drive back to the care facility. Tell her you love her. Share family stories while waiting for a staff member to pick her up.
  16. Sing happy birthday again when she’s picked up at the door and keep singing until you’re pretty sure she’s returned to the memory care unit and can’t hear you anymore.
  17. Drive home and instead of getting mopey because your mom’s birthday wasn’t a perfect celebration, be grateful that God made a way when there was no way for you to be with her when she turned 92.

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By Jolene

Jolene Philo is both parent and daughter of loved ones with special needs and disabilities, as well as a former educator who worked with children for 25 years. She’s written several books about caregiving, special needs parenting, and childhood PTSD, including the recently released Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilties, which she co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman. She speaks internationally about caregiving and parenting children with special needs and blogs at www.DifferentDream.com. Jolene and her husband live in central Iowa.


  1. Lou Peasley

    As usual. you have planned well ahead to do everything possible to make your mom’s birthday as nice as possible for her. You are a good daughter!

  2. Karen

    Happy Burthday, Aunt Dorothy.

  3. Linda Kelly

    Happy Birthday, Dorothy!
    Good for you, Jolene, for finding a way to celebrate your mom’s birthday!

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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