You Say It’s Your Birthday?

By Christie Golden

I am not a big believer in coincidence. So when, a couple weeks ago, I was told that my blog day would be on November 21, I blinked, grinned, and realized I’d gotten a birthday present. That’s right. Today is my birthday.

I know adults, and especially women, aren’t supposed to make a big deal about birthdays. Those are for children. Adults—well, after a certain point, you get the “Over the Hill” birthday cards, jokes about how it will need a force of nature to blow out all those candles on your cake, and so on. When we’re kids, it’s a big deal—cake, presents, parties galore. Now, though, hey, yeah, just another day.

When I was young, as November 21 was often so close to Thanksgiving, and my family drove from Michigan to Florida to see my grandmother for the holiday, my birthday kinda got lost. My chocolate cake (and yes, my grandmother made an amazing one) was fantastic, but it had buddies instead of sitting alone in glorious birthday cake splendor: cookies, pumpkin, and pecan pies flanked it. All those of you out there who celebrate your birthdays on December 25 or thereabouts, I know you feel my pain and then some.

Too, it was a particularly interesting November 21. It was November 21, 1963. We all know what happened the following day. If you don’t know, Google the date. For years, my mother tells me, she was unable to celebrate my birthday on the actual date. (And now you know how old I am, and you know that I don’t care that you know. I don’t look it, I don’t feel it, and I most certainly don’t act it.)

I’m not sure when the transition began, but at some point in my early adulthood, I began to reclaim my birthday. I started writing it on the calendar. I told all my friends in advance. My husband never forgets my birthday because it is nigh impossible to forget it. I told perfect strangers, “Today is my birthday!” And you know what? Everyone seemed pleased. “Well, happy birthday!” they would say, and the smile was almost always genuine. Because birthdays are fun, and we’ve forgotten that, and it’s kinda nice to be reminded of it.

Egotistical? Maybe. I honestly don’t think so. I think everyone should be as delighted about their birthdays. We are living in a rather grim time economically. Everyone has challenges and difficulties. And of course we can’t take the day off, sit back, eat cake till we’re sick and reap in a towering pile of presents any more. (Disclaimer—if you can pull this off, more power to you, but I can’t.) It’s not about presents, or cards. It’s about acknowledgement, and mainly self-acknowledgement. It’s about taking a day to say “Hey…X number of years ago, I entered this world. And that’s a pretty darn wonderful thing.”

So…yeah…45 years ago, I entered this world. And that’s a pretty darn wonderful thing.

Reclaim your birthday. Write it on a calendar. Circle it with a big red marker. Put it in your Google calendar. Tell friends and co-workers and remind family members. Most importantly, tell yourself. You’re in this world. You matter.

And let me be the first to wish you, whatever day it falls on…”Happy Birthday!”



You Say It’s Your Birthday? — 8 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday, Christie!

    Mine’s just before Valentine’s Day, so I got tired of heart-shaped birthday cakes as a kid.

    I always try to take an hour or so on my birthday to sit alone and contemplate where I am in life, where I want to be on my next birthday, and so on. That keeps it my special day.

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I just told my husband a few days ago that next year (March 3) I want to have a birthday party for myself. I’m already planning what food to have.

  3. Hmm. Maybe it’s just around here (Shreveport, Louisiana) but many adult African-Americans celebrate their birthdays in a very obvious way: they collect dollar pills and pin them to their shirts. I don’t contribute, but I always wish anyone I see so outfitted a happy birthday!

  4. Happy Belated Birthday!

    Mine’s the same day, though two years later. I’ve never let the magic go myself and even if I’m by myself in it, I enjoy it immensely. I’ve always just thought of it as my own day, period. Well, now I find out I have to share it with you, and a couple years ago learned Bjork, but that’s cool. It’s a great big good day and there’s room enough for us three odd ducks. 🙂

    On Mars, I’m 22, and based on how I feel, I think I’m on the wrong planet.