I’m fairly certain that in the history of all mankind that there has never been anyone who loved her birthday more than my mother.
She relished it, she cherished it and made for darn sure that those around her celebrated it as much as she did.
No one ever forgot Mom’s birthday. That is mainly because she began the countdown to her big event 364 days before it occurred.
I’m here to contend that there is nothing wrong with a big birthday celebration, and I feel right in doing so because that is the way that I was raised.
As much as Mom loved her own big day, she loved others’ just as much or more. She planned luncheons or events and made sure that everyone felt special on the anniversary of their birth.
I follow suit with birthdays to the tune of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and like to make sure that all of our loved ones enjoy their big day to the fullest.
That being said, my family of men don’t really get why birthdays are a big deal. Oh sure, as children our sons happily enjoyed their big parties and homemade Superman cakes and new footballs. Now as grown men, they wonder out loud to their father, the biggest party pooper of all time, what all the guff is about.
Being a bit of a martyr, I didn’t tell them my birthday was coming up on a family vacation a few years back and subsequently received nothing.
There we were in the mountains, staying at a lovely condo, and I woke up on my birthday to nary a card, a flower or even a cup of coffee to commemorate the auspicious occasion.
We, as a family, went on a lovely bike ride, toured a small town and settled on a small diner for lunch. My Pat suggested that, to cut back costs, everyone should simply stick to the salad bar. Oh, the moans and the groans from my four famished sons, as they realized they would be stuck with greens instead of substance.
They ordered first and when the waitress looked to me, I ordered a full meal. I was met with wide eyes and gaping mouths. “What makes you so special?” asked Vernon, our eldest and wise-cracking son.
“Well,” I replied as I anticipated the response I would get, “for starters, it’s my birthday.”
That’ll teach ’em.
The best present on any birthday that I have ever received was an email from a 90-year-old gentleman named George Perlinger. I had written about an important date on the calendar that I had circled and written a time, but not penciled in what the appointment pertained to. Although I didn’t actually say the day, George had figured out from my description that my birthday was July 16.
That was several years ago. Since that column, George has emailed me each and every month on the 16th, telling me happy whatever fraction of the year the particular month is from my birthday.
He always sends a happy email telling me how he plans to celebrate my big and monthly event. Sometimes it was getting his wife’s toenails trimmed. Other times getting gas, and sometimes he goes as crazy as celebrating by buying groceries.
These events may fall short of an inauguration, but George never lets the 16th of the month go out without a note letting me know he is thinking about me.
As most people who write a weekly column will tell you, we don’t do it for the money and that’s certainly a good thing. We barely earn enough to keep the family in green beans. We do it because it is in us to do so and if we can bring an ounce of joy to others at the same time, well, win-win!
I’ve already reminded the fam that the 16th is quickly approaching and I know that although they won’t fill a room with balloons or shower me with flowers, they’ll think of me on that day.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep the celebration low key and look forward to that email from George.