It’s okay to want to celebrate one’s birthday on one’s own terms…

February 25, 2010, 7:24 PM

I had an interesting discussion with Mom today about birthdays. And at this point in the year, it’s more academic than about planning, because the next birthday is my brother-in-law’s in the middle of next month (and for the record, saying “my brother-in-law” still sounds odd). Then Mom’s doesn’t come up until April, and mine in May. When it comes to my birthday, the last one I was really all excited about was my 21st, and that was kind of tempered when I got a speeding ticket on the way up to JMU that morning. Then 22 and 23 came and passed without much fanfare, but then 24 is one where I rebelled against my birthday. That was the one where I really got serious about celebrating my birthday on my terms. That year, I wanted no cake, and no celebrations of any kind. And my mother never really “got it” on that one.

With mothers, birthdays are kind of interesting. After all, it was a special day for Mom, too. I came into the world, and Mom kinda had to, you know, have a baby. Lots of pain, I’m sure, since Mom went through 30 hours of labor with me before the doctor determined that I wasn’t coming out that way, and I ended up being born via C-section. But I like to think I was worth it, and Mom readily admits the same. But I think the whole giving-birth bit is why she’s not able to quite figure out why I want to celebrate birthdays quietly on my own terms. Mom wants to celebrate it because, after all, she became a mother on my birthday. But still…

I’ve said before in this space, as well as in the old quote section, that I kind of don’t like awards ceremonies. Okay, I loathe them. I would rather eat razor blades than attend an awards ceremony. It’s because I don’t like being thrust in the center of attention. And birthdays, if not celebrated properly, fall into the same category. I for one don’t like birthday cards. It’s unwanted recognition. Save the money you would spend on the cheap sentiment and do something else.

On the subject of cards, it’s something of a tradition in my office for the staff to sign birthday cards for people whose birthday it is that month. I’ve been with my current employer for three birthdays. The first one I had barely started working there, so I just played along. The next year, I asked that a card not be circulated for me, but one was allegedly circulated anyway, but it was lost before it made it to me. Then last year, I again said no card, and the office got me a card anyway. It was eventually given to me, but I kind of feel halfway guilty that I never looked at the card. Of course, I asked that no one do a card for me in the first place. But I was given the card, took it home, and put it on the kitchen table. It sat on the table for about two months, still in the envelope, until I finally threw it away, unread and having never been taken out of the envelope, while I was cleaning house. One could say that he who lasts last laughs best, or one could say I’m remarkably stubborn. But this year, I’m going to again say “no card”, and see what happens. I don’t particularly want to openly say that I ended up throwing the card away without ever reading it or even taking it out of the envelope because that is kind of insulting to everyone who signed it, but that’s what happened…

So I guess it boils down to that I want to control how I celebrate things. Come the end of May, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if friends and/or family took me out to dinner at a restaurant of my choosing (hint hint). But yeah, don’t thrust me in the spotlight. Let me go there on my own. And hopefully, since we’re discussing this now, we’ll be all settled on things when my birthday does roll around in May. Ultimately, I don’t mind turning another year older when my birthday rolls around, but it’s an unwanted celebration. If I can’t celebrate it entirely on my own terms, then I don’t want to celebrate it at all.

Of course, if the schedule holds as it currently stands, I won’t be in town for my birthday – neither DC nor Stuarts Draft…

Web site: Of course, the question becomes, which is worse... to resent your birthday, or to not have one at all?

Song: Meanwhile, linking to that Wikipedia article about the Caesarean section at the top of this entry reminded me of why I didn't become a doctor. I'd thought I might possibly want to be a doctor right up until around middle school. Then I watched a caesarean section being done on TV. That was enough for me. As it was, dissecting the frog in high school, a traditional rite of passage for American high school students, nearly made me puke. I was like, "That's okay, you cut it, and I'll write down what you tell me."

Quote: Meanwhile, I think I took a good course of action in 2005 by leaving for a while. If I had gone home and seen that cheesecake that Mom bought against my wishes, I think I would have lost it, throwing the cake onto the floor, or worse. Let's just say it probably would have been very ugly, and there would have been very harsh words said, and many people's feelings hurt. As it was, I ended up taking the partly-eaten cake and threw it in the garbage the next day, having never had a slice of it myself.

Categories: Birthdays