When you were born, everyone was laughing but you were crying. Live your life so that when you die, everyone is crying, but you are laughing (Islamic hadith)
Today March 11, 2014 is my birthday and let me get this right out front; birthdays are not my favorite days in the year! I do have a reason, and to most people it seems weird. You see my family of origin just didn’t put an emphasis on birthdays. If we were lucky my mother might bake a cake, or in my case a pie, but other than that we just didn’t mention our natal day. As an adult I chose to use my day as a day for reflection, taking the time to think about the past year, what I’ve done or could have done and what I would like to do in next year. It has become for me my time to remember family events, the good and the bad. But most people think there should be a party or some kind of celebration.
I am wary of people inviting me to their homes on my birthday because inevitably there will be a surprise party with all the trimmings. When the word “surprise” is shouted out I, being the introvert that I am, want to crawl under a bed and stay there until all the hoopla is over with. I actually hate opening presents because the giver is waiting with such expectations of my joy over their gift. Unfortunately, there have been way too many gifts where I smile and say “oh how lovely, thank you”, and I’m thinking “what the heck is this and what is it used for.”
But my mother taught me, and I do believe this, each gift is a given in love and love must always be received with joy. I’m not the best thank you card writer, but will send them to people I can’t thank personally, but coming up with the right words for a gift I can’t recognize is always difficult. My mother’s lessons on receiving gifts is the reason I have stuff in closets of my house I have been caring around for 60 or so years from state to state, house to house, and I still don’t know what they are or what to do with them. I can’t remember who gave them to me but they were given in love and therefore I keep them.
So while I prefer to have a quiet reflective day I am married to someone who thinks all birthdays should be grand celebrations. His family made a big deal of birthdays and they had parties with all the trimmings, just the opposite of mine so I too must join in the fun. So I try to live up to his and his family’s expectations of joy and surprise. I try, I really do. For him and his family’s birthdays I bake a cake and make the day special, because I love them and they get great joy out of the celebration. And, bless their hearts they just can’t understand my reluctance to celebrate my day in the same way they do.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of the Happy Birthdays I receive. It is nice to have someone stop me and say “Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great day,” it’s just that my idea of a great day is different from everyone else’s ideas. So please tell me Happy Birthday, but, don’t expect me to tell you I’m doing something exciting because my idea of an “exciting Birthday” is sitting curled up on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket, my dog asleep on my lap, a cup of green tea beside me, and reading a good book. That is the perfect gift for me.
So I have to go now because my husband wants to take me to lunch to a restaurant of my choice, probably Wendy’s or IHOP (I told you I was weird). But I am going to steer him to Home Depot where I can pick up the lumber and compost I need for a new raised garden bed. I am hoping the weather will hold today so that I can put it together and set it up. If I get that done, that will make this a very good birthday.
So, thank you for all of your birthday wishes, they are appreciated. And may all of you have a wonderful day in your own way.
Ruth Jewell, ©March 11, 2014