Wednesday, I turned 42. And it was a fabulous day.
Far too often, I find myself feeling a smidge disappointed at the end of a birthday. I know some adults like to be low-key about the whole thing, but I’m really still a little kid when it comes to my birthday, and how much of a Big Deal I believe it should be.
In my house, I am the Birthday Fairy, for the most part. I make the cakes, I plan the parties, and I hang the festive bunting in the kitchen. And when my own birthday comes around? No cake. No party. No festive bunting in the kitchen. Just a vague feeling that maybe the men in my life could have shown a tiny bit more enthusiasm.
Don’t get me wrong! Neil does a lovely job with the gift-giving (he has completely nailed it the last couple of years for me, I must say), and he always takes me out to dinner. But it doesn’t occur to him to pepper the house with celebratory decorations and smells. In the past, this has bothered me, some years more than others.
This year, I decided recently, would be different. I thought about the whole thing objectively, and it comes down to this: if I am the fanfare provider in this house, and only I really know just how much fanfare I require to be happy, then maybe it’s time I take control of my own celebration. I can make myself a cake, I don’t particularly care about having a party, and I can hang my own festive bunting in the kitchen.
What a simple, simple idea, and yet such a revelation to me!
So yesterday, I took myself out to O Bagel for lunch and had my very favorite sandwich (a rare midweek treat for me). In the afternoon, I tied on an apron, played my Pandora shuffle really loudly, twirled around the kitchen, and baked myself some cherry cupcakes. Then I stepped up on the stool and hung my banner over the kitchen table. I spent most of the day alone, and yet it was full of simple pleasures.
Later, Neil and the boys took me out to the Stirling Hotel for supper, and they gave me a super cool birthday present: a 35mm f/2 lens for my camera (I totally love it – it is great in low light, I can get nice and close to my subject if I want to, and the background blur is dreamy. swoon).
There is no doubt in my mind now, that there are just some parts of the birthday celebration that I am better taking charge of myself. I live with a man who would be perfectly content with nothing more than a wave and a “Happy Birthday” when his turn comes around. His requirements for a successful birthday are simple, and mine are anything but. It’s not that I want a lot. It’s just that I want things that don’t even occur to him. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wake up thinking about bunting and cherry cupcakes. But I do. (And, maybe next year I will wake up thinking of balloons and brownies – who knows? I don’t yet, and Neil certainly doesn’t either.)
My new recipe for birthday happiness: let the guys stick with the parts that they are good at (picking out gifts and taking me to a favorite spot for supper) and I’ll take care of anything else I may require, whatever that looks like from year to year.
P.S. Those cherry cupcakes were pretty good, if a little dry. I adapted them from here. The dryness was probably my fault, not the original recipe’s. But I’ll have to make another batch just to be sure…