Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And I'll Cry If I Want To

I have a birthday coming up, and I'm upset.

Not because I'm getting older, but because I can't seem to remember that I have a birthday coming up.

Two lovely friends sent me an email asking if I wanted to go to dinner for my birthday, and it was akin to receiving a slap in the face. What birthday? Mine? Seriously? Cue rapid calendar flipping and Blackberry checking. My birthday was approaching in about two weeks, and I had forgotten.

I know why this happens.

I recently thanked my parents for my fifth birthday party, which was and remains the best birthday party I have ever had. Everyone came - or, at least I assume everyone came, given I had nothing whatsoever to do with the guest list. My best friends from church and school were there, along with my favorite aunt, my sisters, and my parents. At five, that was everyone. Extra people came, too, so there was lots of noise and balloon popping and potato chip eating and a sufficient enough crowd to make me feel a bit woozy about having to blow out the candles and make a wish in front of, well, everyone.

I've had two or three birthday parties since then that even begin to compare. One was also in childhood, and another was four or so years ago. I do not usually throw or ask to be thrown birthday parties, because as it happens, I was born on Thanksgiving Day.

If you do not know what it is like to be born on a major holiday, you may not be able to relate. If you were born on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter... even the Fourth of July, you know: everyone already has plans on your birthday. For the rest of your life.

My birthday generally occurs the day before, the day after, or every eleven years or so, on Turkey Day itself. This generally meant we were driving to, driving from, or dining at Grandma's House. Or my other Grandma. Or Aunt Shirley. Or Aunt Jean. Or....

I received presents and all. Probably more than my share, since I saw more extended family on my birthdays than my sisters did on theirs (this is where I have to bow to folks born on Christmas Day or anywhere around it. You pretty much get the shaft with the combined holiday and birthday present thing. I am probably the cut off birthday to prevent that from happening). But my presents were delivered as part of something larger. En route to something else. Here's your new sweater, dear. Now I've got to go stir the beans. There are three cakes for Thanksgiving - look! One of them has candles, so its yours!

In my mother's defense, she always, always, baked me a birthday cake. Until I was well into my thirties. Pretty much until last year, actually. My cake, and birthday, were usually a quiet affair, however. A mention at the Thanksgiving table, a birthday song from the Extended Family Mass Choir. I didn't have parties. It's Thanksgiving - who has time to plan another party?

And this was okay. Really - I never lamented my lack of parties as much as this post might make it seem I did. I'm not sure I ever even noticed - I mean, there was stuffing and macaroni and cheese to consider. I ignored it as much as everyone else, and somewhere along the way, I just started forgetting it altogether.

I can remember with stunning clarity that Thanksgiving is approaching, and generally like to know exactly where I am eating well before October dawns. I somehow never connect that to my birthday. I pretend to remember, and then I forget.

I really, really hope I remember to tell this to the nurses if I ever live in a senior citizen's place. I can envision them coming into my room, asking me if I know what day it is, and I'll say, "Thursday." They'll exchange glances, and I'll offer up, "Thanksgiving?"

You can see how it might go downhill from there. If you know me then, please be sure to let everyone know that I was forgetting my birthday way back when, when I was trusted to drive and be responsible for children and things like that. Please let them know that it's not a sign.

And if you're around on my birthday? Please bring cake... and maybe remind me the day before why you're coming over at all. Thanks.

1 comment:

Two Shorten the Road said...


My brother's birthday is on Thanksgiving this year. When we were kids I always used to get jealous because he got tons of presents because people just happened to be around during his birthday. But you're right -- he didn't have much time that was specifically all about his birthday. It was always a side event to Thanksgiving.