May 22, 2015, was my birthday. I turned 39. For the eighth time…. Happy Birthday to me!
Now, I realize this is not true of everyone, but I love celebrating birthdays! Especially mine. I love celebrating my birthday, and I love for as many others as possible to celebrate with me! Over the years, I’ve had parties to celebrate my birthday, some planned by me, some planned by others unbeknownst to me. I’ve gone out to dinner with friends, and I’ve cooked dinner for friends. I’ve been known to share with anyone who happens to have the good fortune of crossing my path on May 22nd that “Today is my birthday!” so that he/she might also have the privilege of being part of the esteemed group of family, friends, and, well, whoever happens to cross my path, who are celebrating my birthday! The more, the merrier!
I made extra-special plans the year I turned 40 (I mean, 39 for the 2nd time…): in recognition of the overwhelming Goodness I’d experienced in those 39+ years, I wanted to celebrate by giving back. And no, I’m not talking about re-gifting that oh-so-special gift someone had re-gifted me. I’m talking about giving back to the Universe, giving something to others in gratitude for all that had been given to me. So on my birthday weekend I persuaded a group of friends to go with me way too early one morning to nearby Santa Fe to serve hot coffee to some day laborers while they waited to see if they might be hired for a day’s labor. And later that summer–but still part of my birthday celebration (really, who can adequately celebrate a milestone birthday like 39…for the second time…in just one day?? or any birthday, for that matter??)–I participated in a triathlon (on a team aptly named “Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s Forty!”, with my husband and a friend as my teammates). In an attempt to fulfill my birthday wish of giving back in a bigger way than I could achieve by myself, I roped in as many family members and friends as possible and invited them to donate to one of my favorite non-profits, Heifer Project International, in support of our efforts. And, well, let’s be honest, in celebration of my 2nd 39th birthday! I was almost as overwhelmed by their generosity as I had been by the Goodness I’d experienced that started all this–over $2,000 was donated to Heifer Project in response to my “birthday invitation”!
Like I said, I love celebrating my birthday! What better “excuse” than my birthday to celebrate my life? I mean, Life…. What better opportunity than my birthday for others to celebrate me? I mean, with me? than for others to celebrate Life, with me?? I really do love celebrating birthdays, and particularly mine. Others’, too. But I especially love celebrating my birthday with others. As many times, with as many others, as possible. What could be better?
Well, for me, for now, this year’s celebration just might have been better. Compared with years past, it was a pretty low-key celebration. But it was lovely.
May 22, 2015. Here’s how it went down….
I got up at 6:30 and stumbled out to the kitchen, eager to get the coffee pot going. I’m still drinking only decaf, so I guess it’s a psychological thing, but I love love love making that pot of coffee first thing in the morning! Imagine my delight (or something as close to delight as a non-morning-person, pre-decaf-coffee, could muster at that hour…) when I found my 13-year-old daughter up and making crepes for a special birthday breakfast for me (even more meaningful since she did this in addition to her normal getting-ready-for-school prep and was still ready to leave to catch the bus by 7:00!). Sweetness from her heart directly expressed in the form of sweetness for my tummy. Lovely.
Soon after that, her two younger brothers woke up and began their getting-ready-for-school process. On that particular morning, this process included sampling my birthday crepes, which, luckily for them, I consented to share, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. Otherwise, it played out like every other getting-ready-for-school morning with them–I helped them tame their crazy bedhead hair, made sure their chosen clothes were clean (or at least clean enough) and free of any rips or tears (we try to save the holey shirts for Sunday…), prompted them to get their lunches made, tried to make sure their teeth got brushed at least as well as (and hopefully better than) their hair, etc. All the normal stuff, with nothing special in recognition of my birthday. Except that they got along. !! For one.whole.hour. I made no special requests, no bribes, no threats, and that morning my 11-year-old son and his almost-9-year-old brother could have been confused for two boys who actually liked each other from the time they got up to the time they got on the bus over an hour later! Was it a planned birthday gift? or was it a birthday miracle?? I can’t say for sure, but let me tell you–it was lovely.
In the middle of all of this yumminess and getting-along-ness, there were a mind-boggling number of birthday wishes from friends and relatives via text, phone, and online. So many–and so early! Lovely.
Then there was a semi-energetic yet totally enjoyable walk around the neighborhood with a dear friend. “Semi-energetic” due to my increasingly arthritic dog rather than my consistently dependable lack of energy. I could have walked at a more energetic pace, but that morning he couldn’t manage it. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it…. The less-than-vigorous pace, however, did nothing to diminish the “totally-enjoyable-ness” of our walk. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, flowers were blooming, and we were chatting up a storm. Lovely.
After that, there was a birthday greeting, hug, and kiss from my hubby, in the middle of his getting-ready-for-work routine, with a promise of more celebrating later…. Lovely…. 🙂
Then an unusually luxurious and gloriously unrushed shower (proof: I actually took the time to shave my legs, which was embarrassingly overdue and meant that I could finally start wearing my cute capri jeans again, also overdue). Lovely!
All cleaned up and freshly shaved, I donned those long-neglected capris and headed out to meet my walking partner and friend for an exciting morning of shopping and eating out. Read: “a quick trip to Wal-Mart to pick up a prescription…aaaaaand $100 worth of other stuff I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until I saw it, followed by an even quicker lunch at McDonald’s”!! 🙂 By lunchtime I was beginning to feel a little worn out from all of the birthday fun and frenzy of the morning(!), so when given the choice to choose where we would eat my birthday lunch, I opted not for my favorite local diner-type restaurant where I could have gotten some of the best green chile in northern NM, but rather for McDonald’s. Granted, I tend to be a pretty cheap date generally, but on that day in particular, I really just wanted to get home and lie down. So a Sweet Chile Chicken Premium McWrap it was. With fries, since it was my birthday. And with my dear friend. Lovely.
Then home for my nap. Soooooo lovely….
As for what happened after that (i.e., post-sooooooo-lovely-nap, once the kids were home from school), I cannot quite recall! It’s all a blur…. It was a Friday, so I’m sure it was the usual mix of happiness-caused-by-it-being-Friday and exhaustion-caused-by-it-being-Friday, and the bipolar swings between cheerfulness and grumpiness that that mix brings. Sometimes some snacks and a little veg-out time in front of the TV helps, sometimes I need something more…. 🙂 It probably wasn’t all that lovely, but somehow we got through the afternoon. Good enough!
No special supper plans that evening as I was the scheduled gymnastics carpool driver for my daughter and a friend, but there were whispered plans between the two boys of some secret cake-baking that just might occur while I was gone. With Daddy’s supervision, of course. Daddy’s, not mine. Not only did I not have to make my own birthday cake, I did not even have to be involved in its creation, although I had purchased, at the request of the head chef–my 11-yr-old–after he and his brother had agreed on the recipe they would be using for said creation, one lime. Was I curious? Yes. Was I concerned? Not in the least. Daddy would be supervising. Not me. More lovely than I wanted to admit.
Then off to gymnastics with my daughter, which meant a couple of hours by myself while she was at practice. Lovely!
And then back home, for the much-anticipated, one-lime-using, all-boy-made, Daddy-supervised birthday cake: homemade lime pound cake, with homemade lime glaze, and homemade vanilla ice cream! And candles. Taa daa!! Sooo lovely! Not to mention delicious!
And there were birthday decorations all over the kitchen, and birthday balloons all over the house, compliments of my youngest. There were birthday cards that had arrived in the mail and a few birthday presents. There was singing, and wish-making, and candle-blowing, and picture-taking. And finally, there were good-night hugs and kisses and the last “Happy Birthday, Mommy!” wishes of the day…. Lovely.
Lovely, lovely, lovely. The whole day was simply lovely.
Nothing elaborate, nothing fancy, no big production was made (although my husband, having been the one to supervise the special-birthday-dessert-making process, might beg to differ!).
But so many little gestures. So many little moments of celebration with those nearest and dearest to me. So many spontaneous eruptions of gratitude from within me, for those who are nearest and dearest to me, as well as the innumerable other manifestations of Goodness and Joy and Love in my life (including the assorted other birthday celebrations that had happened earlier in the week, with just a small group of friends each time–lovely!). So, so, so many wonderful gifts, wrapped in the beauty of everyday living and being and sharing life together.
May 22, 2015. My 46th birthday. Just to be clear. Nothing elaborate, nothing fancy, no big production was made. But it was lovely. I felt cherished. I felt loved. I felt grateful to be alive and to have been given the opportunity to celebrate one more birthday. What I didn’t feel was older. Although I suppose that didn’t change the facts….
As I think about it, maybe that’s what I really like about birthdays. Maybe it’s not the presents, or the singing, or the throngs of people saying “Happy Birthday!” Maybe what I really like about birthdays, whether mine or someone else’s, is that they are specific, set-aside opportunities to give and receive love, that they provide regularly occurring excuses to celebrate one another and to celebrate being alive. Maybe, what celebrating birthdays is really all about, is having a chance to say to one another, at least once a year, “Hooray for another year of YOU! I’m glad you’re alive, I’m glad you’re you, and I’m glad you’re a part of my life! You matter more than you know, you are loved more than you can imagine, and you are worth celebrating!” Hmm. Maybe that’s what birthdays are really all about….
Well, that, and getting homemade crepes for breakfast and a big slice of luscious homemade lime pound cake with homemade lime glaze, topped with a scoop of creamy homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert…..There is that….. 🙂
P.S. Thank you to all of you who helped make my most recent birthday so lovely. As you can see, your efforts didn’t go unnoticed!