• Jenny Chamberlain

Abba, Birthdays & Awesome Memories!

Updated: Dec 22, 2020



It's a few minutes past midnight which makes it officially my birthday and I am listening to "Abba's Greatest Hits". I can't help myself but get up from my chair and dance.


My friend Sara once told me that the song that comes on at midnight on your birthday is your birthday theme song! That was a few years ago and ever since I have stood up until midnight on my birthday to catch my song and I have yet to be disappointed ;-) Tonight, it is "Dancing Queen" by Abba.


I'm happy. I can't help it. I just am. As I spin around and around in the middle of my living room to "Dancing Queen" I feel almost in a daze that at 48 years old I can be this content and happy with life. There is so much joy in me that as I twirl, I feel it overflowing into excitement. Boy, I haven't felt this energetic since my 20's or wait, my 30's, yes, my 30's. Tonight, since it is my birthday, I don't feel like a princess, I am a Queen. There is a big difference in those two definitions.


"You can dance You can jive Having the time of your life Ooh, see that girl Watch that scene Dig in the dancing queen..." Abba sings, as the music thrives into my soul, my spirit.



I have an amazing life. My life is amazing. I am going to be amazing in 2019!


Funny, how we never praise ourselves. How many times can you tell yourself that you are pretty amazing without feeling a bit awkward. I mean we do it when we reach a goal we worked hard for, but how many of you, have ever, just out of the blue told yourself "Dang, I am pretty amazing!"


Well, today is my birthday and I am going to give myself compliments all day long. Ha! I never do it enough, but there's no holding back today Jenny.


As the song song comes to an end, I close my eyes and imagine dancing with a little one this time next year. I am going to be an good mom, I can just feel it. I want my child to have the most amazing life experience.


Twirl, twirl, spin, spin ....


Memories, childhood memories erupt with the last few steps of my dance. Only Abba can do that so well.


I remember spending the night at my grandma Chamberlain's house all the time as a child , I was surrounded by my aunts who were teenagers going into young adulthood during the 70's . I loved spending time there. My parents eventually purchased a house around the corner from my grandmother, so at some point, I was pretty much there everyday it seemed like.


My Tia's Licha, Minnie, Leti, Linda and my grandparents all took turns helping my mom take care of me when I was a baby. My dad got drafted for the Vietnam War and was stationed in Korea before I was born. My mom was 18 when she had me and lived with my father's family until he returned from the war when I as two. The "girls" as everyone referenced them were the last four in the house out of the 12 children my grandparents had, my dad was born somewhere in the middle. They all played an important role in my village that raised me including my mom's side of the family (she is the oldest out of 12).


Chiquitita now plays and I think of my Tia Linda. I love disco because of her, she taught me everything I know ranging from Olivia Newtown -John, the Bee Gee's, Andy Gibb, Cool & The Gang, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Abba - just to name a few. I think I still have a mad crush on Andy Gibb because of her and we watched Solid Gold faithfully together, yep Andy looked pretty good in those outfits. She was there when I developed my first Hollywood crushes including a few cast members from the Monkey's. LOL


My Tia Linda always, without fail is the first one to text me right at midnight to wish me a Happy Birthday. I always wait in anticipation of her text. This year, as I was listening to Abba for most of the evening, I caved in and contacted her before midnight and thanked her.


For those who know me well, sometimes I just say the corniest things out of the blue, some of you may call them "Jenny-ism's", I get that from three people in my life, my mom, my Tia Linda and my Tia Leti. My Tia Leti always calls me "Janie" because she has a hard time pronouncing my name, so if you ever happen to call out the name "Janie", I just might turn around and say "Hi" and you would have to thank my Tia Leti for it. Our "ism's" is what makes us fun people to be around ;-)


My Tia Linda taught me to go against the "social norm"and be a "rebel" in a good way when it came to living life. She likes to have fun, but with a balance, never going to far beyond reason, she always encouraged me to do the same. I guess she saw that I had a free spirit, she has it too, I know. She is definitely the one who taught me that's its okay to get all excited jumping up and down about the smallest littlest things, even if the world around us doesn't understand why, because she does. Our "ism's" make sense to us, we then realize what we just said made others laugh and laugh along too, because it actually is funny. She can laugh and see humor in the most silliest things and we both end up laughing until tears come out of our eyes, have been doing so all of our lives together as far as I know.


The song emerges:

"Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong ... in your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow,


How I hate to see you like this, there is no way to deny it, I can see that you are oh sad so quiet ..."


I remember as a little girl when I would cry or be sad about something, my Tia Linda would always sing to me to make me happy again. My dad did the same, his song to me was "Big Girls Don't Cry"by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons. For some reason those songs always made me feel better and in the end I stopped crying.


"Chiquita, tell me the truth, I am a shoulder you can cry on, your best friend, the one you must rely on ...


You were always so sure of yourself, now I see you a broken feather, I hope that we can patch this up together .. "


One thing about my Tia Linda, out of the blue she sends me encouraging messages and lets me know she is thinking about me. She consistently has done things like this ever since I can remember. I am always on her mind and loved, she leaves no question or doubt for that. I could never hide anything from her, even now. She was and still is able to see right through me. No matter what the circumstance, whether it be good or bad, she never ceases to let me know that she is right with me, praying for me and always being honest and truthful with me - it gives me reason to share her love and compassion for others. My grandma was the same way, always giving of herself so effortlessly.


Before I made my decision to foster, I always wondered how I would pass on the legacies that have been given to me from my family. I have been taught so much wisdom, fun, laughter and perseverance through the storm, how do I pass that on as a family keepsake if I don't have children of my own?


Today, I have the answer to that question when I think how my life will change this year through fostering. One thing I know for sure, I will teach my child all things "Abba.." and how music and song help you along life in so many ways.


(Chiquitita continues to play in the background...)


Tonight, as I write, my eyes suddenly burst out in tears. But, they are tears of joy because I am going to sing "Chiquititia" the same song that was sang to me by my Tia Linda to my child. I know the child that I will be receiving will have some aches and sorrows for such a young age, but as I will sing to them along with my Tia and Abba:


" Chiquitita, you and I know, How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they're leaving, You'll be dancing once again and the pain will end, You will have no time for grieving, Chiquitita, you and I cry, But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you, Let me hear you sing once more like you did before, Sing a new song, Chiquitita ..."



I remember going through some challenging times as a girl and into adulthood, wondering why a certain circumstance didn't work out, my Tia reminded me of those lyrics through song, words and thoughts. I didn't realize it until now, it's because she experienced all those emotions whether high or low, happy or sad before me and she knew in the end that everything will turn out ok. I hope that someday someone who I have yet to meet looks back on their childhood and thinks to themselves "I remember my mom singing "Chiquitita" to me when I was sad, she told me her Tia Linda sang it to her when she was little and now I am going to sing it to my child.


I always say that I was raised by a village. I am so thankful I was because it taught me everything I know about being a parent. I am blessed to soon be a part of a village that will raise a child.


Tia Linda, I love you. Thank you for teaching me how to dance Disco and that even at 48, you can still twirl, spin and dream ... because of you I am dancing and having the time of my life. ....

I dedicate this to you Tia:


Thank You For The Music by Abba


"Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing Thanks for all the joy they're bringing Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty What would life be? Without a song or a dance what are we? So I say thank you for the music For giving it to me"




Jenny, Your Dancing Queen Niece.

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