HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU–AND ME
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Some people say it’s just another day. I say it’s not, and Gail and Suzanne agree: it’s your birthday, and it is a special day. It is the anniversary of your arrival here on earth. It is an observance of the day you came into the world. It is the mark of another trip around the sun. Without your birthday, you wouldn’t be here.
It’s that simple—and that important.
Since I observed Gail’s birthday in February with a post, and Suzanne’s birthday in August with a post, I decided it was appropriate to observe my April birthday in a post. Gail and Suzanne agreed.
I will turn 52 this week. I am not hiding my age; rather, I know age is a gift to be opened, celebrated and treasured. And I will do just that. I’m not sure what I will do just yet, but I know I won’t work—if I can swing it. My schedule is clear so far…I know I will go to my son’s baseball game. My husband is planning on taking me to lunch.
I also observed Mom’s birthday in January with a post. She never called attention to her own birthday, but she always made sure to celebrate all of ours. Most years, she would call me at 4:15 p.m. on my birthday, the exact minute I was born. Dad always chimed in with a birthday greeting as well.
Mom always made a cake for each of us, and cooked a special dinner of our choice. There was always at least a small gift. For our youngest brother Ryan, who was born on Christmas Eve, she never let Christmas outshine his birthday; she always made it a special occasion that wasn’t overshadowed with the holiday celebrations. Some years, I remember her observing it in the summertime too, creating a special occasion to allow him more attention that may have been garnered by the holidays.
Long before they died, Mom and Dad took the time and care to sort hundreds of pictures from dozens of years of their family life. They made a pile for each of us, labeled it with our names, and made sure they gave it to us. I have looked through mine many times, and I found these various pictures from my birthday celebrations through the years. I think I got them in the right order:
My first birthday; my great-aunt and uncle are pictured with me. I don’t think I have turned away from any cake since then.
Three of my brothers and Gail were with me, Suzanne wasn’t yet dreamed of.
I thought this was my birthday, but I don’t appear to be eight years old as the candles would indicate. This must be Gail’s birthday. I included it because it is a great picture of our great-aunt Madeline, who was a great substitute grandmother. If either of my boys had been girls, the first girl would have been named Madeline after her and our mother’s stepmother, also named Madeline. Neither Madeline was a genetic grandmother to us, but they were both incredible grandmothers to us in every other way.
This one doesn’t appear to be a happy birthday…
I have always loved books, and I remember these book/record sets fondly.
That laced-up vest look complements the gap in my teeth…
This appears to be my initiation into the awkward teenage years.
And, after a long gap without pictures, this was my 34th birthday. If you look close, there is a baby bump, and he was born in July.
I recall a few birthday memories from my younger years:
*I had a track meet on my 18th birthday. I ran long distance races so my events were later, and I had a crush on a guy who was there from another school. He didn’t know it was my birthday; I’m not even sure he knew I existed.
*One of my sisters forgot my 21st birthday. I even stopped at her workplace to see her that day. Granted, she was very busy, and it was Good Friday. Still…She did make up for it later, so I let her off the hook. Several other important people forgot too, and I felt like the star of the movie Sixteen Candles.
*The only birthday I recall dreading was my 25th—pictured here with Gail’s two oldest daughters.
At this monumental quarter-century mark, I was going nowhere in my life, and I was wasting precious time with Mr. Wrong, whom I cut out of this picture. There is a longer, soul-sucking story explaining why I was with him and not Mr. Right, and if the price is right, I will tell you the rest of the story—in private. It ranks up there with one of my biggest mistakes I ever made. Luckily, I was able to rectify the situation, and I married Mr. Right three years later.
Twenty-two years after that party, Mr. Right threw me a 50th birthday party. His son–my stepson Matt, observed his 30th birthday a month earlier, and Amy (Swheat Girls, Part Two: July 9th), turned 40 the same day Matt turned 30. We were feted with a 30-40-50 party. Mark’s brother, who turned 50 four days after me, was also included in the celebration.
I wore the tiara proudly.
It was held on the eve of my birthday on a beautiful spring day, and a grand time was had by all. We are already planning the 40-50-60 party in just eight years.
The last birthday bash I had was 40 years prior. Each of us in my family was granted a large 10th birthday party with friends and family invited. It was an occasion to be anticipated and remembered, because we each got one when we turned 10.
Suzanne reminded me that we also got the day off from doing dishes on our birthday. We never had an automatic dishwasher, Dad always said that when all seven of his dishwashers grew up and moved away, he would buy a dishwasher. He never did buy one for the farmhouse, but their house in town had one.
Suzanne and I were talking about how Mom and Dad made sure to take pictures on our birthdays, first of the birthday girl/boy, then with the rest of the kids. Suzanne, however remarked that all the pictures she has of her birthdays are with Mom and Dad only, because they always took her to Disneyland, without any of us.
Gail rang in her 50th birthday in style with a big party as well. There was a blizzard that weekend, and Suzanne and I weren’t able to make it. She did, however extend the celebrating throughout the entire month of February with this campaign: 50 Beers for 50 Years. I think she managed to reach her goal before the end of the month.
Nearly every year, the best birthday gift I get is from Mother Nature. She (almost) always has the leaves hung on the trees for me, and has a lush carpet of green covering the earth just in time for my big day. I can only remember one other birthday about two years ago when the trees were bare and the earth was still mostly brown.
Apparently, she’s not going to deliver in time again this year.
As I write this on April 14th, we are experiencing a freak early spring blizzard. Sideways snow and strong gale force winds have been the order of the day. Our son has prom tonight. It is a cruel trick from Mother Nature for all of us.
She hasn’t been very nice to us this spring.
Gail, a.k.a. Gale Force Winds, reminded me that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it, and complaining about it won’t help. Her daughter’s prom was changed to Sunday night due to the weather, as western Kansas got it worse than we did. Interstate 70 was closed at the Kansas-Colorado border, right where we took our pictures on our trip there just over a month ago. It was sunny and pleasant that day. Not so much today. Gail loves it. She always loves it, no matter what the weather.
One should never dread birthdays; I certainly don’t. I welcome them; relish them. Neither should we dread any kind of weather, but still, I do. All of us should welcome the weather as graciously as Gail–and Suzanne–both do.
The forecast for my birthday is 82 degrees and sunshine. I will give Mother Nature a break if she can deliver that for me.
Gail, Suzanne and I are expert birthday gift-givers to each other. Seeking out and finding the perfect gifts for each other is a sport, one we all immensely enjoy–almost as much as getting the gifts on our own birthdays.
Gail found another perfect gift for me in Michigan when they were there at Christmas, and, like I frequently can’t, she couldn’t wait until my birthday to give it to me. So I got it early, and I am so glad I did.
She knows how I love to watch the moon in all its phases. In a quaint shop in northern Michigan, they sold necklaces with the various phases of the moon. But it’s more than just another moon necklace. If you enter any day in history you wish to commemorate–like, for example, the day I was born, it gives you the exact phase of the moon for that day. So now, I am the proud owner of this necklace, which features the moon as it appeared on the day I was born 52 years ago. Of course, it glows in the dark.
If you need a gift for a moon-lover like me–or for yourself, check out http://www.moonglow.com.
Gail’s gift for your birthday is this sage advice: Birthdays are a gift. Unwrap them and enjoy the presence.
In honor of my birthday, I ask one gift from you: Please celebrate your own next birthday. It is a gift to be opened, another year to celebrate, a day to relish your presence here.
Take the day off, buy yourself a gift; have a party. Or do it all. Just please celebrate.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to my birthday buddy Charlie, a college friend born on the same day in the same year as me. Pictured here–second from left–with her own sister lode.
Happy Birthday too, to my friend and former co-worker Lois. We share the same birthday in different years, and we always wish each other happy birthday by phone every year. Once in a while, we manage to get together.