I know become especially obnoxious as July approaches each year. But birthdays are a big deal to me. My first memory is of my fourth birthday (when my parents gave me the Care Bear movie stoundtrack). I remember planning my birthday parties in elementary school so the maximum number of friends would be able to attend. (Anyone whose birthday falls near or on a holiday can relate to that, I’m sure.) As I drove across town this week, I got to thinking about my favorite birthdays. I’ll just share two, both from recent years.
I celebrated my 23rd birthday with 45 people I’d known for only four weeks, plus my best friend who was briefly visitng the town I worked in that summer. Because no one knew me all that well at that point, I organized my own small birthday shindig. Probably 15 or 20 people came to a cook out by my apartment, and my sweet roommates gave me a jewelry box I still use and cards I’ve still saved.
A canoe trip I’d planned for after the cook out fell through. Instead I played volleyball, went swimming and got ice cream with a smaller group (which is generally my preference anyway). We were laid-back, without the noise of a large crowd or the stress of detailed plans. We simply enjoyed each other, and that’s one of the best gifts I could receive.
Last year was, unexpectedly, one of my favorite birthdays. I had been “dumped” (for lack of a more specific descriptor) a week before, and my original plan had been to spend the weekend in Florida with him.
Instead, I spent the night of my birthday at a concert where the singer dedicated the best song to me. (“I’m the icing on the cake/I’m the secret ingredient you’re missing”) My sister and several of my girl friends rallied around me.
Since my weekend plans had been destroyed, one of my best guy friends insisted on arranging a small gathering instead. Without me even needing to ask if she would come, a new girl friend insisted on driving an hour to join in (even though she had already celebrated my birthday once). We went with a handful of friends to dinner and out for a drink afterward. It was a low-key birthday, and one of few times I felt that someone cared enough and got me enough to make me feel cared for on my birthday.
Here’s to another year (and to one that doesn’t utilize a song about a break up for as its theme!).