When we moved to Fairfield 29 years ago -- about two months before my 38th birthday -- the economy was tight, interest rates were at 17 percent and we couldn't afford to buy a house, so we rented one. I was commuting to Pitney Bowes by car in those days from Fairfield and the trip was long and crowded.

We had landed in one of the most affluent areas in the country, and I decided to keep my sense of humor and hope that things would improve. And eventually, despite the high cost of living, they did, and we've really enjoyed our years in Fairfield.

That summer, my folks visited around my birthday. My nana was still alive and she came along.

This Monday I'll be celebrating my 67th birthday, the interest rates are at their lowest in decades, and I've had to become very resourceful with jobs and consulting, just to get by and make the mortgage payments. And things aren't likely to improve for a long time, if at all.

But I remain thankful for good health, aside from a few aches and pains and a little high blood pressure and we've managed to hang onto the house. I'm even more thankful for my wonderful wife and daughters, who have been there through the rough spots and the great times. For the past seven birthdays, my parents, who are absolutely amazing at nearly 91 and 90, have wanted to spend my birthday with me and the family. I picked them up yesterday at LaGuardia for a four-day stay, and we've got a great weekend planned.

My 60th in August of 2004 got a little carried away with more family than I needed, but it was still fun. My wife likes quieter gatherings so it was a little more overwhelming for her, but she was a good sport.

Since then, thank goodness, the celebrations have been much smaller and quieter.And we actually spent my 65th birthday in Washington with my brother and his wife.

This year, it's going to be hot and sticky, but we're going to have a great time anyway. My brother and sister-in-law, just as they did last year, are coming up and my brother chose one of his favorite plays in honor of my birthday -- "Anything Goes." We'll be going into Manhattan for a matinee and my good friend Steve, who recently moved to the city, recommended a great restaurant just outside the theater district.

These days, mom and dad need wheelchairs for the long trip from the gate to the baggage area. Walking is slower for the folks so we do less of it.But this year, my wife will feel right at home with that pace, since she broke her ankle seven months ago and is just now getting back into walking.

And this year, dad decided that he wasn't interested in the nine holes of golf I was going to arrange for him.

But Saturday, we celebrate. Our older daughter, recently divorced, will join us, and we're planning to make a day of it in the city. We will have to sit separately in the theater since it's easier for the folks to sit on the main floor. Once the matinee ends, we'll grab a cab for the short ride to our restaurant.

The most important thing for me is that we're together. I really appreciate that mom and dad and my brother still enjoy getting together for a nice occasion. We certainly didn't need the theater -- dinner only would have been fine -- but dad wanted to treat us to a show and I have to say, after living so tightly this past year that it's nice for us to get out this once during the summer.

So far, mom and dad have been relaxing. We had a quiet dinner together last night in downtown Fairfield and will probably do the same tonight. As usual, we'll discuss aging relatives and friends and things in Chicago.

And mom will remind me what a wonderful day August 8th, 1944, was for her and dad. I couldn't agree more.These occasions get more and more precious each year.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: steven.gaynes@yahoo.com.