I’m normally a huge birthday hog. I love them. Perhaps it’s my attempt at making up for all the birthdays that passed with just a simple chuckle from my dad. “We didn’t celebrate birthdays in my day,” he’d say, year after year. “Everything was simple. The boys would get new pants. The girls would get a new dress.” That’s it. Of course, this is what I remember from my preteen/teen years. There are pictures that show, when I was a child (anywhere between 1 and 8), I did, indeed, have birthday parties. And my dad was part of them. I don’t actually remember these parties, though. So year after year, I make a big deal of my birthday. I don’t want to celebrate one day; I want a whole birthday month!
But this year, I was content in smaller scale celebration. No big party for me; no drinking, no late night. I didn’t even harp on everyone the way I normally would.
First of all, I can’t (or rather shouldn’t) mix alcohol with my meds, and second of all, I’m just too tired. My birthday was Wednesday, and after working all day, the last thing on my mind was going out to party. No sir. Instead, we went to my mom’s house and had a beautiful dinner with my mom’s signature dish –lasagna– and relaxed, talked, and laughed. It was perfect.
The day was actually one of my most relaxing birthdays, and though I was tired from my son’s recent night wakings, I really enjoyed it. I was surrounded by love. My students, the day before, surprised me with a small cake and sang “Happy Birthday.” My husband and son started my day with gifts, cards, big hugs, and a sweetly sung “Happy Birthday.” Friends and family called and left messages on Facebook. At every moment of the day, I felt loved. And that’s what birthdays are for, to celebrate the life of those we love, and to celebrate a year passed and to hope for a brighter, better year.
So I’m thirty-two now. The last two years have been a fast-moving, nausea-inducing ride. There have been too many unwelcome changes in my health that have hurled me into a third-life crisis. But this birthday brings with it hope for a better year.