So, it’s my birthday today. It’s not a particularly special one this year. It doesn’t end with a 0 or a 5. It doesn’t even end with a 9. It is a prime number, though, which is kind of cool. I’m 47 today. I guess you could say that it’s not a special birthday. But to me, every birthday is a special birthday.
Some people don’t like to celebrate birthdays, because they remind them that time is passing. But I like birthdays, because they remind me of how many wonderful things can happen within a single year!! I like to look back on all the wonderful things that happened to me in the past year. And I like to look forward to the wonderful things that are yet to be in the 365 days ahead of me.
Birthdays are special to me because they remind me of my childhood. My mom threw my sister and me amazing birthday parties. I remember being in my garage with a line of lit candles at one end and a line of kids with squirt guns at the other, racing to see who could put their candle out first. I remember a living room filled with multicolored spider webs of string, one color for each guest, and we had to follow our own, untangling as we went, to find a goody bag at the end. I remember birthday cakes shaped like trains, and ladybugs, and numbers. I remember laughter and joy and feeling loved.
As an adult, though, I find birthdays special because of the gifts. No, not the kind that come wrapped in pretty paper and topped with a shiny bow. I love the gift of seeing literally dozens of birthday wishes from family and friends all over the world waiting for me when I get up in the morning. I love the gift of having my children bounce happily onto my bed in the morning, squealing, “Happy birthday, Mama!” I love the gift of the look of intense concentration on my son’s face as he solemnly delivers me my morning coffee in bed. I love his whispered confidences of what he and Daddy picked out for my birthday present (“But don’t tell Daddy you know, because it’s a surprise!”). I love that my husband loves to pamper me on my birthday, that he knows all the things I love but would never splurge on for myself. I love that in his eyes I will always look as young as I did on my first birthday that we celebrated together.
I am a year older today. Another year of my life is past; I am another year closer to the end of my life. But that’s not a bad thing. I have used the last year well. I have laughed and loved and lived. I have spent time with my children and my husband and my family and my friends. I have tried to help others, and I have tried to make the world a better place. I have learned to be more loving and more patient than I was a year ago. I have given to those in need and loved the loveless. I have become closer to God. I have said “no” when I needed to and “yes” when I wanted to. I have seen a bit more of the world than I had a year ago. I have lost loved ones and learned to remember their lives with joy instead of remembering their deaths with sorrow. I am, as they say, sadder but wiser.
Last year was, as most years are, a year that saw both joy and sorrow. Through the pain I have become both stronger and more compassionate; through the joy I have received peace and wisdom. I am not who I was a year ago, and I am not yet who I will be a year from now.
I am simply me, looking back at the past and ahead to the future. And I am happy with them both. And if that doesn’t make a birthday special, I don’t know what does.
Happy birthday to me!