Today is my birthday. The past week has been a good mail week. The bills aren’t coming yet, AND I got birthday mail (cards and even a few packages).
Besides going out to dinner (or this year, lunch) and maybe even dancing with friends, I don’t do much to celebrate my birthday anymore besides talk on the phone with all my relatives. Yes, pretty much all my relatives. In one night. I have several bottles of water and beer chilling in the fridge in anticipation. The water is to prevent hoarseness and the beer is to self-medicate afterwards. [Mom, Dad, don’t worry, I’m just kidding about the self medicating part…sort of.]
My good friend JM and I share the same birthday but different years. So when I lived in the same city as her we did joint dinners to celebrate, especially since our circles of friends overlapped greatly (we worked in the same place). Easier for everyone, including us, that way. One year we even got each other the same thing…call it an exchange of the gift cards. And we were both quite happy with our gift to each other, too.
I think celebrating, or at least acknowledging, birthdays is important. Everyone needs to be reminded that someone in the world is happy about and celebrating the fact that they were born. Even when the person would rather forget that it’s their birthday because it’s a milestone and they’re turning 30, 40, 50, whatever. My friend EH used to always miss my birthday. At one point, he was a good 6 months off! It’s not that he forgot, just that he had it written down wrong (someday I’ll tell you more about his “calendar” consisting of post-it notes and scraps of paper taped to the window frame in college, no joke). He was so sheepish and cute about it. But frankly, the fact that he was off by months didn’t bother me, because he just wanted me to know he was happy I was alive, and that’s what really mattered. Physical gift or card or not, reminding someone that you’re happy they were born is a gift in itself.
My mother used to take this acknowledgment to a whole new level. In college she took to calling me 36 hours before I was born to remind me that’s when she started labor AND how long she labored AND that this was after I was already several weeks late AND she did it all without drugs BUT in the end it I was worth it. Talk about the ultimate in mother guilt trips. That would buy any parent a few weeks of good behavior. Apparently I did not want to be born. My theory is that my parents watched the news and I heard all this stuff about the world and decided that it was much nicer in my little space in my mom’s belly. Seriously, given the choice, would you have been born?
But born I was, the initial delay notwithstanding. And now I’m another year older. Whether or not I’m wiser as well is open to interpretation, although I hope I learned a thing or two and maybe even grew as a person this past year. But for now I’m just going to celebrate being born and go eat some chocolate. My colleague’s daughter, a toddler, equates birthdays with chocolate cake. I think she’s a very wise little girl. Because today is a day I can eat as much chocolate as I want without the guilt. Just because it’s my birthday, dammit.