Monday, November 18, 2002

Birthday Blues

After watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on Saturday, I wanted to revisit the world of Hogworts and pulled out the 3rd book in the series to re-read. Every Harry Potter book begins on Harry's birthday, and quite a big deal is made out of the fact that his muggle family ignores the day. When Harry makes wizard friends, it's very important to him when they remember and celebrate the day.

Birthdays were very important when I was a kid. In the morning before school, I'd open the cards that my extended family sent me. I'd always dress up, usually in clothes that were birthday gifts that I hadn't been allowed to wear until it was actually my birthday. As a little kid, Mom would make brownies or cupcakes for me to share with the class. That night, I'd open presents from my parents and sister and we'd all go out to dinner at the restaurant of my choice. On the weekend, I'd have a birthday party with cake, favorite foods, friends, and more presents. It was a day when lots of people celebrated me.

Then I went to college. I was very shy in school, and didn't have a lot of close friends. I don't think that anyone really knew that it was my birthday freshman year. Senior year was my 21st and very disappointing. My best friend was sick, others had to study, and so I went with a few acquaintances to the college bar to get my free drink and then went home. My best birthday since those halcyon childhood days was two years ago. It was a Saturday, I ran my first marathon, and my family and a few friends came out to cheer me on. My parents and sister had driven down to Richmond from D.C., and so we could hang out, open gifts, eat cake, and celebrate the day. I successfully completed a lifetime goal, and spent the day with those I cared about most, which was very special.

I find myself getting blue on birthdays. I don't mind getting older; I am firmly convinced that I'm improving with age. I don't wish that I had done more or had more; I’m happy with where I am and what I have done. I certainly don't want cake and presents; I can get those for myself. I guess I just have a hard time reconciling the reality of birthdays as a grown up with the expectations of a child. I sulk because I don't get a parade. Silly.

It's nice, however, when people take the time to celebrate that you have been born and let you know that they're glad that you're here.


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