When I was younger, birthdays were always a day I looked forward to so much that I could never sleep the night before. I'd be so excited that I would just lay awake waiting to fall asleep so that tomorrow could come SO MUCH SOONER. Of course, it never worked, and I'd lie awake until finally my tired self would succumb.
I would leap out of bed early, rush to living room, and see what my parents had set out for me. It was usually a package wrapped not in store-bought paper, but newspaper--usually the funny pages--and a bow stuck to it. Sometimes the package would appear later, but there were cards placed on our entertainment center that I could look at. My grandparents always mailed a card with a crisp five-dollar bill tucked inside, and the constancy of that card was wonderful.
With five children, it would be easy to gloss over birthdays, but my parents never did. August 5th was always MY day to do what I wanted. I got to pick out my flavor of birthday cake (I loved the confetti cakes when I was young; my brothers favored chocolate cake made with mayonnaise) and ice cream. I always went for Rocky Road or mint chocolate chip--when I got older to think about flavor pairings, I would try to pick something that went with the cake I wanted.
And we always got to pick what we got to eat for dinner. Early childhood meant favorites like macaroni and cheese or burgers with my mom's macaroni salad. We all love that macaroni salad, probably to the point of irrationality. I don't even like mayonnaise, and I still LOVE that salad.
No one questioned the supremacy of the individual whose birthday it was. I wouldn't have to do chores, like wash dishes or put them away. It was my birthday.
I love my birthday, and I always have. I've been mildly mocked for making a big deal about my birthday, but I really love it. I still feel like it's my day, and I try to treat my friends' birthdays the same way. Thinking about all those childhood birthdays helps me to see why I feel the way I do about birthdays.
Today was my birthday. After believing for a week or so that it would shape up to be a subdued, somewhat ignored day, I was proved dead wrong. My Facebook wall is covered with birthday wishes, and attentions from friends and family alike have been wonderful. I got to eat dinner with three lovely ladies, and have drinks with another and her fantastic boyfriend (whose birthday is also today). I even chronicled the day's happenings in pictures, which I will share tomorrow. And, AND! I have a birthday party this weekend to anticipate.
So, remember. Birthdays are wonderful days. You should use the day to appreciate that many people love you and are happy that you are in the world--because that's how my day went.