At a certain point, birthdays are no longer eagerly anticipated. After the thrill of gifts becomes secondary to who you’re spending your day with, and as your year count encroaches on middle age, you think more about your life, the people in it, and what you have accomplished.
In my family, birthdays are a fun-filled, family bonanza. Being the child of a split family, I bounce from one family birthday celebratory dinner to the next during the week of my birthday, or my older brother’s. It is wonderful. I get two birthday dinners with my favorite people. I have two sets of birthday traditions to enjoy.
For example, my mom sings her birthday song to me every year on my birthday. I have no idea where it came from or if anyone else in the world knows it, but it goes something like this:
You’re 31 today, you’re 31 today,
You’ve got the key to the door, you’ve never been 31 before.
Mommy says you can do as you please, so hip hip hurray,
For you’re a jolly good fellow, you’re 31 today.
You know, substituting years and names and such. It is my favorite part of my birthday. She gets all goofy and dances and sings and hugs me. I don’t think I can age without it.
And then there are my dad’s side’s traditions, involving a nice family meal, usually some discussion of being old and what that means, how I feel about being middle aged, and so on. And then there is the dad birthday toast. It is always anticipated, always awkward but heartfelt, and always goes something like this:
Well Lauren, we’re thrilled to be with you, as you get so much older. 31, that’s kind of big deal. [some words of wisdom, or a cut about how they weren’t sure I’d make it] Well, we think you’re terrific, we love you, and happy birthday!
Either way, there’s family shenanigans, hilarity, stories, good food, wine, and cake, and lots and lots of love. I never love being the center of attention, but any excuse is a good one to get together with my favorite people, even if that means sitting through jabs and songs and such. I’ll take it!
Happy holidays to all. And happy birthday to those unfortunates who have to share their birthdays with Christmas!