So my birthday is coming up. Well. In May. End of May. But I start giving considerable thought to my birthday on January 1, so it’s practically here. I don’t give a fig about getting older, wrinkles, ruminating over what I’ve done with my ripe old 27 years, I simply adore a day devoted entirely to me. It’s possible I have a bit of a princess complex when it comes to my birthday, but I know the reason why.
I grew up in a big family. As in, I have nine younger siblings. With each passing year that another baby was being born and entering the mix, I got a little less attention. We literally have home videos where I am around 5 skipping around in the background trying to get filmed saying, look at me!, and somehow the camcorder kept landing on my sister Savannah who was a little curly haired minx resembling Shirley Temple who just knew she didn’t have to compete with anyone for attention. She would get it just by breathing.
It’s not that I had negligent parents. They showed all of us plenty of love, but who can resist a baby? The babies were where it was at in our household and so I joined in on the fun and fawned over each new baby like I was the second mother.
But not on my birthday. My mom was very good about making sure we knew on our birthday that it was our day—all day. I got teased any of the 364 days of the year that weren’t my birthday and my mom would say “Why can’t you kids just get along?” looking frazzled. On my birthday if I tattled and ran in the house to say that my brother dared to tease me on my day, my mom would stop what she was doing and bring fire and brimstone down on my brother for daring to taunt me on my sacred day. I would smile smugly, while internally fretting knowing it couldn’t last. It was only 24 hours. And boy those 24 hours were good. I would get breakfast in bed, flowers, taken to a bookstore to dawdle and pick out books for hours, lunch at a sit-down restaurant with pop instead of an ice-water, my favorite double-chocolate buttercream cake accompanied by chocolate ice cream because you can never have too much chocolate, and every time I turned around my mom would be asking me, “What do you want to do now, birthday girl? It was perfection.
So is it any wonder that to this day I expect that same kind of fanfare and deluxe treatment that my mom set me up for in my youth? It is one day! It is the day I entered this world at a mere 6 lbs 13 oz and graced my parents life with all my wit and delight. There is only one of me in this world and I should certainly get a day in my honor.
I have a point with all this birthday talk though, it’s not just to rally everyone to the complete euphoria that is getting on the birthday bandwagon. It’s that I had a realization. I enjoy my birthday so much because it is one day that I know I really relish in living in the moment, enjoying every aspect of the day, eating chocolate cake, reading books, drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola guilt-free and being with my absolute favorite people (while they shower me with the extra amounts of love and attention that I demand). This isn’t some Mother Teresa-esque statement that we should all live in the present moment and eat more chocolate cake—which honestly, yes we should—but it’s the moderation to note here.
I enjoy my birthday so much because it is all such a treat. Even the treats are treats, because obviously I can’t eat my mom’s famous chocolate buttercream cake everyday and I am mostly OK with that.
I realized this past weekend when my two dearest and oldest friends came for a visit and I indulged in a Shake Shack burger (my favorite) and had wine and decadence that once they were gone, I had no interest in carrying on with the junk food. It was a treat and I felt satisfied and willing to go right back to Paleo and fruit. Which is so big of me, because I don’t react the same way when my birthday is over. I usually have one or two temper tantrums while wildly resisting going back to the blandness of an un-birthday’d existence.
The lesson, however, is that if we acknowledged that like birthdays, some days are made to be savored and indulged in for what they are, exceptions, treats, that rare special day, then we can transition back to life which admittedly isn’t always filled with breakfast at Tiffany’s, horseback rides and river excursions (those were just other examples of birthday’s I’ve enjoyed) but instead includes spinach and a long commute. But if I didn’t have the spinach and the long commute, I wouldn’t treasure my birthday nearly as much as I do.
So every once in awhile whether it’s a birthday or a half-birthday enjoy a latte with whole milk, drink a sweetened ice tea or for crying out loud take that trip to the Dude Ranch you’ve longed for since childhood knowing that most days you power through with good intentions and a whole lot of kale. The treat days are treat days for a reason, to be a nice reminder when you’re white-knuckling it through traffic on I-66, muttering profanities under your breath, that life can be real swell, real swell indeed.