Birthdays are special. More special than Christmas or New Years, Thanksgiving or Easter. Your birthday is uniquely yours. Sure, you likely share it with a few hundred thousand people, but within your own little universe, your birthday is your one special day of the year. One day out of 364 others where you are celebrated, just for being born! That’s pretty neat, if you ask me.
Maybe it’s about upbringing. Some families memorialize birthdays in a special way. To others, it’s just another day. I’ve found that this holds true for getting older too. As we age, we stop wanting to acknowledge our birthday. Anything past 40 is taboo. But not for me. I love my birthday. Always have, always will. It’s a special day that deserves to be celebrated. My husband always makes me laugh with his catch-phrase - “They can’t take your birthday away.” Meaning, no matter how tough life gets or what happens, no one can ever take away your birthday. And he’s right.
I can vividly remember my birthdays as a small child. My mom made a big deal about it from the moment the sun rose until the sun set. That day was all mine. Whether it was a school day or not, the morning always started the same. My entire family burst into my bedroom, complete with party hats, noise makers, and a breakfast birthday cake. Basically just cinnamon rolls decorated with a little extra and colorful icing and lit candles sticking out the top. After the singing was over, we sat on the bed as a family, eating cinnamon buns and drinking chocolate milk.
Next, came a present. Just one and not the only one, but the first one to kick off my day. My mother always made me gorgeous birthday cards with the perfect message inside. It was always something meaningful, touching, and funny. After reading my card, I tore into the paper. The morning gift was always something I could either wear or use at school. One year it was a new denim jacket I had been begging for. Another time, a brand new Trapper-Keeper (remember those?) and another time, a set of stud earrings. My morning gifts were always practical and always my favorite.
On school days, I still had to go on time and finish out my day. My education was the only thing that trumped my birthday. But my mom was always waiting for me right off the bus, balloons in hand. I couldn’t control my smile as I rounded the corner and saw her standing excitedly a the bus stop, clutching the giant bunch of multicolored balloons. There was always a huge one in the center that said “Happy Birthday”. She welcomed me with a warm hug as I bounded down the stairs. We walked home, where I’d find another gift waiting for me on the kitchen table. It was my “after school” present. This one was usually a sweet treat or my favorite candy or snack. My mom always made sure we ate healthy snacks after school, but this was my special day and the rules didn't apply. My mother filled a small gift back with bubblegum, Tootsie rolls, and gummy worms - all my favorites. She usually included a Pez dispenser also. I enjoyed my sweet treat before finishing my homework.
Dinner was another highlight of my birthday because I got to pick what it was! Whatever I wanted was on the menu - from tacos to macaroni and cheese, pizza or Chinese. I usually chose tacos. They were my favorite. Soft tacos with extra cheese and sour cream. I didn’t have to do the dishes either! All of my chores got put on hold for my special day. And then came cake at night. My mother always got me a gorgeous ice cream cake with beautiful pink frosted roses and perfectly applied pink cursive writing. My cake read “Happy Birthday Sarah.” She always had the right amount of candles and my family sang loudly and proudly as we gathered around the dining room table. And of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without one more present. This was usually the toy that I had been asking for. One year, it was a real life baby doll. Another year, a new chest for my room that held all my dress-up clothes, and of course, Barbies were always somewhere on the list. The paper was usually a shiny shade of either pink or purple. My mom was an expert at curling ribbon.
I looked forward to my birthday more than any other day of the year. Even more than Christmas morning. I realize that my mom set a pretty high standard that my husband must now uphold. No, my birthdays aren’t exactly the same as they were when I was kid. But I try hard to recreate those special mornings, afternoons, and nights for my girls. I want them to feel as special as I did as a child. Birthdays are something to be celebrated.