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For the Love of Birthdays

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Hooray for turning 7! This was taken at a rare trip to my aunt’s house in Reno for Thanksgiving. An impromptu ‘party’ was arranged after everyone learned that it was almost my birthday, and I got to be a mini-queen for the day and get showered in lots of last minute, yet, super-cool birthday gifts, including a new gymnastics leotard, some Cat in the Hat books and even a cool pencil with a big, red-rubber heart eraser on top! I loved that Cabbage Patch belt I was wearing, although I was a bit unimpressed with my teal corduroys, since they were embroidered with some unavoidable, bright-yellow ducks on the back pockets that seemed kind of baby-ish to me. You also gotta love the last-minute ‘Oh-just-use-that-random-candle’ placement on my cake, too! Priceless!


Hello, December!  I know that 99.9% of you automatically think of Christmastime when the calendar pages turn to this month, but I’ve got to admit, my first thought is always about MY birthday!  (Sorry, baby Jesus.)  I’m sure my mother also thinks of the day when she gave birth to an abundant, 9lb 13oz baby girl.  CRIPES!  What mother could forget that impossible outcome!  Have you seen my mom?  She’s tiny!  In the Air Force hospital nursery, I was given a Santa hat-beanie to keep my adorable, over-sized head, nice and toasty, and my parents said that I was considered the ‘Queen of the Nursery’ because I was such a, um, notable presence.  Awhhh…

Unfortunately, what no one knew back then, in the last month of the 1970s decade, was that I was born with a rare-ish condition that would be with me for the rest of my life.  This condition would peek its nasty head up about once a year, and would dominate a large majority of my time and thoughts.  My condition was considered ‘acceptable and normal’ until I became an adult, when symptoms usually go dormant or disappear altogether; this did not happen to me, and my condition only seemed to worsen.  It was true.  I had developed an intense case of ‘I-Freakin’-Love-My-Own-Birthday-itus’.

As I write this, I can totally feel your eye’s rolling and hear your inner-thoughts saying, “Oh man…she’s one of THOSE people?!  They are so annoying!”  Yep.  I am, and I am fully aware of the negative force-field I seem to put out there among other adults as my birthday approaches. But, since I am now in my thirties, I have become somewhat better at keeping my upcoming birthday a low-key topic among grown ups, but this newly-learned masquerade does not mean that my own internal, birthday-self-love is any less than it used to be.  Oh no…far from it!  What seems to happen now is that I get SO EXCITED about my birthday and all the possible ways I will be showered with gifts and adoration, that reality usually sets in, and I end up all moody, whiny and depressed about how things actually went.

I know I’m not the only one out there with a disproportionate love for their own birthdays, although I have noticed that each adult that is brave enough to admit their condition to me is ALWAYS another female.  I don’t know the reasoning behind our weird, twisted, birthday obsession, and I’m not sure if understanding its past would eradicate it anyway.

I had lots of great birthdays as a kid, so I don’t feel like I’m trying to make up for any lack in by birthday-childhood.  I had a super-fun birthday party at the skating rink when I turned 8, and I got to come home with a trash bag FULL of new presents!  (And not just any trash bag…a huge black, yard-waste, trash bag!  Neat!)  When I turned 12, I got to have a combo birthday party with my older, cooler friend, Monica.  Our parents rented out the skating rink for us and we got to have a private birthday party for all the kids in our classes!  Even for a Tuesday night, it was packed and we all had a great time!  When I was 21, my new husband, for almost 6 months, surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas!  Unfortunately, we were broke, and so we couldn’t afford to do much of anything, let alone get our own hotel room.  We ended up sharing a double room with our good friends in a seedy part of town; a practice we have all vowed never to repeat!  So I’ve gotten to have lots of good times in the past…so why am I so obsessed with still raking in the goodness?

I’ve gotta say, my two young children LOVE my birthday, as well as their dad’s!  It’s very cute, and I think they made a bigger deal this year over our birthdays, than they did of their own special days!  Maybe they knew that we needed a little extra birthday attention, this year.  I don’t know, but it was very appreciated, and they definitely made my heart melt.  My son scoured his room for a gift, and my daughter made me some adorable cards!  Everywhere we went on the days leading up to my birthday, my daughter would tell the store clerks, waitresses, etc, “My mom’s birthday is in {insert the number of days remaining on her count down HERE} days!  She’s a fan of sock monkeys, too!” It was as if she thought, ‘Don’t all adults get excited about birthdays like my mommy does?  Aren’t they all trying to figure out what to get her?’  And yes, although I do love a good sock monkey, I was quite relieved to only receive ONE sock monkey themed gift this year.  I was also relieved to hear that my husband vetoed the kids’ idea to get me the giant, red, fleece ‘footy’ pajamas at Target that come complete with the sock monkeys on the feet.  Sigh…I’m not THAT into sock monkeys, people!  Although I do appreciate being warm and toasty, I also value being remotely attractive to my husband, so those sock monkey pajamas will need to stay far, far, away from me!  Jeepers…

This year’s birthday rolled around with some less-than-celebratory pomp. (Look it up.  It’s a good word.)  I knew, going into things that my husband could not be depended upon to bring about all the birthday glory.  It was not his fault; besides having to be busy at work all day, he had to come home and be in the office for an online class until 8:15.  I knew there would be no such thing as a birthday dinner (that I didn’t make myself) and that the kids would already be in bed by the time he was free, so we probably wouldn’t get to do presents and the birthday song either.  We decided to do presents and the birthday song the night before, after my husband set up the traditional ‘birthday tree’ that he made up early on in our marriage.  This tradition involves plugging in the lights on a mini Christmas tree, and setting my gifts under it.  It’s pretty fun, and I think more holidays should involve trees and lights, if possible.  Anyway…since I had picked out and wrapped my own sock monkey gift (yet, another sock monkey Christmas ornament that I simply had to have!) and because Dave had taken a picture of the sweatshirt/jacket I had told him I wanted from Target, and preceded to text it to me and ask ‘THIS ONE?’ I wasn’t expecting very many birthday surprises on my birthday eve.  My mother in law was wonderful, though, and made me cupcakes, which she gave to me that day, and she also got me the prettiest book that I can’t wait to read!  (And since I normally ‘judge a book by it’s cover’ when selecting books to read, it was absolutely perfect!)

When my birthday rolled around the next day, I was blessed with lots of family phone calls and texts, plenty of Facebook birthday ‘shout-outs’ and of course, lots of birthday wishes from my kiddos.  Unfortunately, I also had a few run-ins with the birthday-blues, too.  These all came from my own, peculiar belief in the non-existent law that says, ‘When it’s your birthday, things will go GREAT!’  I had a lot of design work to do that morning in my little, cold office, and after designing for an hour and a half, my dang computer crashed.  Everything I had done was gone.  ARGH!  Then, I went to go get my long awaited birthday present, a new iPhone.  You have no idea how long I’ve wanted one!  Basically, ever since they came out, but since I’m a dorky Verizon customer, I had to wait.  Then Verizon got them, yet I still had to wait.  (Darn my non-existent ‘new phone budget’!)  So finally, I had raked in enough birthday cash to make a sizable dent in the purchase of a new phone, but alas…Verizon won’t allow me to get a new iPhone at the ‘upgrade’ (read: affordable) price, until the 11th.  Sad face…don’t they know that my birthday money will be long gone by then?!!!  Take the money, Verizon!  Before it’s too late!  But no…I was going to have to wait, and instead, ended up spending 90% of the money on groceries.  Boo…being a responsible adult is lame!  Add to that, Starbucks’ extreme botch-up with my freebie birthday drink, and I was quite a cantankerous birthday girl.  Who am I kidding?  I was still complaining about it to my husband last night…

The last ‘hoorah’ in having a birthday, and being infatuated with them, is getting together and celebrating with your friends.  I knew that I realistically had only one day to do this (it’s kinda hard to rally everyone a week or so after the event, huh?).  Since Dave was busy with school and had a midterm out of town all day Saturday, Friday was to be the majestic day where I got together with my friends and bask in the ‘Let’s-celebrate-Jenny’ glow of friendship.  Unfortunately, I had been invited to a birthday dinner on that day, but it was for another friend’s birthday.  Again…kind of a big fat bummer.  Now, is it my friend’s fault her birthday is near mine?  Nope.  Was it super-nice to be invited, even though I’m kind of a newcomer to that whole, friendship circle?  Yup.  But did it still kind of bum me out that the only buddies who mentioned getting together for a birthday celebration were ones who were trying to get me to go celebrate someone else.  Sheepishly, I’ll answer: ‘uh-huh’.

I wondered if I should go or not for a few days, and sought the counsel of a good friend, and of my husband (who had been invited to someone else’s birthday dinner on HIS birthday this year) for their perspective, or so I could just have someone to complain to, either one would be appropriate in this case.  Would I really be able to keep my ‘Birthday-itus’ in check throughout a WHOLE dinner?  I am a horrible liar, and I had convinced myself to just skip the whole thing so I wouldn’t be a big, pouty-baby and ruin it for everyone else, when – SURPRISE! – my birthday got added to the evening’s festivities!  It was now a ‘Let’s Celebrate This Other Girl and Jenny’s Birthday’ dinner!  At first I felt bad for crashing the other gal’s big night, but then, since I had no other plans for my celebratory evening, and I remembered that I DID, in fact, enjoy hanging out with these ladies, I should probably take them up on their offer.

The evening was fun, the food was good (Deep-fried green beans?  YUM!) and I got to go out in public without my children in tow, so all in all, it was a huge success!  My friend, who had arranged the evening, even made / brought a birthday cake that had the most amazing salted-chocolate flavor that I just loved! I found out a few days later that she had secretly talked to my husband to find out what I liked.  Awhh….see?  Things did turn out ok!

People say that as you get older, birthdays just don’t get to be a big deal anymore, and I think that’s lame.  Why is that?  Because we have kids and the focus should be on them only? So what’s the message to them – “Enjoy life now, while you can, because when you’re older, honoring people on the day they were born will be considered lame, since life gets ‘so busy’ for everyone?”

Yet I know I have to also be realistic and remember that not everyone else loves my birthday, like I do.  And if I don’t get a bunch of birthday-attention, it doesn’t mean that they are lame friends.  It just means that I need to remember all the other times when they poured into my life and honored me on plain ol’ normal days.  Like when they took my kiddos to hang out with them at the last minute, texted me to see how I was doing, or when they wrote me that note and told me that they considered me a really good friend.  Those are the things I need to remember next year when December rolls around.  Those are the things I need to remember right now.

About Jenny Z

I love to overuse italics, misplaced hyphens and internal dialogue when I write about my usual favorite topic, myself.

5 responses »

  1. You are loved!!! I am SO SO glad you chose to come on Friday. I FELT LIKE A COMPLETE FOOL that I had forgotten the actual date of your birthday! YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME!!! I am SO glad that you liked your cake! I was thinking of you and Bern and what you would both enjoy… her’s is chocolate and yours is sweet and salty. Hence, chocolate cake and salted caramel sauce!
    I love you and you are very important to me! From now on, I obviously won’t forget your birthday! ;0)~

  2. Another great blog Jenny. I am probably the only 70-year-old straight male that not only reads them, but enjoys and appreciates them…..maybe not’

  3. Pingback: Shine On « jennysblogorama

  4. Pingback: The Wonkiest Time of the Year « jennysblogorama

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