I’ll be thirty-six tomorrow, and though I’m no mathematician, I know that that puts me closer to forty than thirty. My husband has been pestering me for what feels like a month to name something I want for my birthday, but what do you really need or want at thirty-six? Sometimes I find the show Hoarders relatable and I’m pretty handy at ordering myself stuff on Amazon, Zulily, etc.
So what are birthdays all about now that I’m nearing forty? Erica Layne of “The Life on Purpose” offered a post about helping kids have a less entitled, more wholehearted birthday. She shared that, “A birthday isn’t about being celebrated by others; it’s about using the day to celebrate your life.” While this is definitely a philosophy I’d love for my boys to grow up with, I thought it was equally applicable to those of us who are far from being kids.
On my birthday, I love getting cards, presents and phone calls. I like to feel adored and indulged. However, sometimes people forget to call or the special things I planned don’t seem to measure up and I’m beginning to wonder if my disappointment stems from the fact that I was expecting to be celebrated instead of celebrating life.
So for this birthday, I traveled through mountains passes and stretching mesas to get to my family’s apple orchard in the small town of Julian, California. It’s the same orchard where I married my husband and my sister married hers. A little green house sits beneath the oaks there and generations of our family have raised babies within its walls.
We had a family picnic amidst the boughs of the old tree my dad had climbed as a child. Fox pulled his monkey around dirt paths on a wagon. I ate watermelon and let it drip through my fingers and onto the ground. We listened to my dad’s impromptu history lecture while a fire crackled in an old wood-burning stove, set in the front yard. My little Bear ate the pulp of a pear grown on a tree planted at the beginning of the twentieth century. Fox saw his first toad. The boys rolled around with their cousin on a blanket on the ground. We snapped a picture of my grandma with her three great-grandsons. And all this on the night before a solar eclipse, when the Milky Way spilled across the sky in a dusty river and the night was so crisp, I could track satellites in their orbit.
On the way home, babies sleeping in the back seat, seated by my husband, I realized we hadn’t sung”Happy Birthday” and there was no cake. You know what? I didn’t even miss it.
People often joke that their kids are the reason they can’t have nice things, but I think my kids are the reason I don’t care about things anymore. The older I get, the more time, experiences, and togetherness matter. So for my birthday, I’ll be asking my husband for a stay at home sushi date, maybe time to take a nap in my hammock, and if he absolutely has to spend some money, a donation to something like the Ronald McDonald House Charities in hopes that others have more birthdays to come.
How do you celebrate life on your birthday?