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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taking A Moment to Stop and Smell the Birthday Roses

The first birthday I actually remember celebrating was when I turned six. My mother had been plotting a surprise and pulled in my dad as co-conspirator. He summoned me to go with him to the dump (in those days it wasn't a landfill; it was more of a spot where people just went ahead and "dumped" their unwanted stuff). I loved going to the dump with all of its potential treasures, and in keeping donned my dump clothes: horrible plaid pants, a mismatched striped shirt, ratty old coat and knit hat. Off we went, and upon our return I was horrified to walk into the living room, dressed like Fred Sanford, to be greeted by a dozen squealing friends in frilly party dresses. There's a photo somewhere of six-year-old me in my dump clothes looking extraordinarily ticked off.

Over the years, of course, there were other birthday celebrations. I had skating parties in high school, my birthday being in winter, and parties in general in college and beyond. Scattered throughout my belongings are pictures of me smiling with flowers at age 20, toasting with a glass of champagne at age 30, twirling in a velvet dress at age 40, and nuzzling a dolphin in Mexico at age 50. A few come to mind that were not so great, but all in all I've been lucky. My birthday, the only day of the year that is technically mine, generally has turned out to be a pretty good time.

This year's birthday, I'm happy to report, was one of the good ones. With our now dozens of ways to communicate I got emails, text messages, phone calls, flowers, cards, and visitors, not to mention a fine dinner and fireside chatting with family and a hundred or so salutations on Facebook. I feel fortunate to have so many people who care about me, something I don't really ever forget but which comes clearly into focus on this one day a year when I awake and murmur, "Another twelve months gone by. I wonder what's next?"

With all my possessions, with all my travels, and with all it seems I've accomplished in five-plus decades on this planet, there's really nothing in the world like the people who populate my life. Birthdays are good for remembering that.

This is not to say, however, that we learn much as time passes. Today when two of my friends stopped by I looked a bit like Frankenstein's bride. I wasn't wearing dump clothes, but it was close. Maybe next year I will learn, and will don a ball gown when I climb out of bed to see, at 57, what wondrous things are headed my way.

1 comment:

Heckle said...

Surprise birthday parties and dumps. Two items foremost on my own list of blogging topics, though I'd have to move into the realm of fiction to combine them! As for your two friends, I imagine they arrived in their usual formal wear, cups in hand, and called ahead after knocking twice.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum