Birthdays are funny things. You either love them or hate them. When you’re young, you can’t wait, either for the party or for the status of a particular age: starting school, becoming a teenager, the driver’s license, the legal limit. Reaching 30, you’re probably getting a sense that the calendar pages are flipping with much more rapidity than you’d like. Whoa, you say, let’s put the brakes on a bit, okay? Unfortunately, this seldom happens, and life continues apace until you get your first AARP invite, at which point the whole thing is like watching the sixth race at Churchill Downs.
I’m having a birthday this year. No surprise there, I guess, except that it’s next month and it doesn’t seem as if the heat has entirely dissipated from last year’s candles. I do detect, however, somewhat of a shift in my thinking. Hey, I tell myself, you can still get out of bed without sounding like a Halloween haunted house, what with all the creaks and groans. Upon occasion, you can crawl around the floor playing trains with a grandkid and you can still paddle a mean kayak. So what if you have bifocals? You still can read, and while your tech skills aren’t quite up to par with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, you do know an iPad from an iPod and have completed all available levels of Angry Birds, even if they aren’t all three stars. Reason enough to rejoice.
My mom believed in celebrating birthdays, too. She was a good cake baker and each year presented me with a two-layer chocolate cake with 7 minute boiled frosting, beautifully decorated with colorful rosettes and leaves. Not only did I enjoy it then (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, naturally), but it sometimes tasted even better the next day when the frosting had formed a sugary crust.
One of my favorite birthday presents ever was a 78 recording of The Sons of the Pioneers, with Roy Rogers—my idea of rock stars back then. It was many, many years later that I learned my father had thought me a hopeless case for aspiring to be a cowboy, even into my early teens. It’s nice to think he and my mom supported me anyway. I still like horses.
A while back, the family had a surprise birthday party for me, with the kids coming from all over and a phone call to Italy to talk with the one who couldn’t get home. I’m not sure they yet believe I was really surprised, so let me put that to rest right here. I was totally and utterly flabbergasted. Really.
So the years have alternately crept, sped, and flashed by and here I am facing yet another milestone, but I get to celebrate it with my five brothers and sisters, which is about as good as it gets. In the meantime, I’m planning to test the waters, so to speak, when we go on vacation, to see if I can still catch the waves on my boogie board.
Happy birthday to me!