Late September! It means the opening of the State Fair, Oktoberfest, maybe some cooler temperatures (maybe … this is Texas), and for me? Birthday time! Yes, I’m turning 40-mumble at the beginning of next week. Yay, me! And as my natal day approaches, I find myself pulled into the most interesting conversations with other adults about the appropriate boundaries of celebrating your birthday…or not. There are evidently some birthday personalities you may develop once you’re past the pin-the-tail on the donkey years. Do you see yourself?
The Birthday Grinch. You actively dislike your birthday. Whether it’s the result of a scarring childhood or not is unsure, but you prefer to ignore your birthday. You don’t like getting older and your birthday is a big annoying reminder. You don’t like, as a friend of mine says, all the noise, noise, noise or the toys, toys, toys. You want the day treated like any other and get grumpy if someone tries to so much as give you a card. You’d quit having birthdays if you possibly could and the alternative wasn’t death. Birthdays are for children, you harumph.
The Five-Year-Old. You wear a tiara to the office on your birthday. You clap your hands as you tell everyone who passes your desk, “It’s my birthday today, you know!” You want the whole birthday enchilada: balloons, cake, ice cream, and presents. And attention. Lots of a attention. Much should be made of you. Toasts should be conducted. You secretly hope for a surprise party.You might sulk a little if people don’t remember. You squee with every Facebook wall post greeting. Birthdays are a time to act like children, you delight.
The Self-Gifter. You can live without all the trappings of champagne and cake or attention, perhaps, but your birthday is just the psychological prompt you need to pull the trigger on that new iPad or jet ski you’ve been eying. Your birthday is celebrated more by MasterCard or Visa than by anyone else. For you, nothing says “Happy Birthday” better than, say, that lovely Rolex you’ve been coveting or even a sports car if it’s a milestone year. For your birthday, it is better to both give and receive.
The Party Animal. You don’t get out much, but on your birthday you grab some pals and a taxi and pull out the lampshade for your head. Dancing on tables, singing karaoke, and accepting shots from strangers is your thing. You may or may not take these shots off their bared abdomens.You do, indeed, sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday. And possibly play a beer pong tourney. You plan your own party gladly every year and host yourself with gusto. Tattoos have happened.
The Month-Long Birthday Boy/Girl. For you, celebration starts on the first day of your birthday month. You find ways to enjoy every day. You take friends out to birthday meal after birthday meal. You prefer a trip out of town and visits to relatives. Your thinking is that you’re worth a solid thirty days of fete. Why not? you think all month when faced with opportunities to eat, drink, or purchase something non-essential. After all (and most rationally, you say), it is your birthday month.
So many ways to experience the birthday. Me? I am all of these but the Birthday Grinch. No, I am a Celebrator. I’m with Dr. Seuss, who called your birthday “your day of days!” For one day, I like to make myself at ease, treat myself, feel a little more special. Be glad that I’m alive when I should be dead. Maybe I am a little childish to want attention and cake and maybe a little champagne on my day. Maybe I should be more grown up about the whole thing.
Nah. I am a Celebrator. I am Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, French Cajun on Mardi Gras, and Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. I wear costumes on Halloween and pass out Valentines. Hell, I even enjoy a good MLK Day. If there’s a reason to have fun, appreciate, and party, I am all up in that. Being an adult can be some pretty serious business. Here’s to celebrations to make life just that much better. I hope you party like it’s your birthday.