Posted on 20 Comments

Just the right amount of fanfare

142/365: May 22 - Birthday cupcakes for me! 22 bday 01 22 bday 02 22 bday 03 22 bday 04 22 bday 05 22 bday 06 22 bday 07 22 bday 08

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…


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Posted on 20 Comments

20 thoughts on “Just the right amount of fanfare

  1. (belated) HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA!

    1. Thank you, Kasey 🙂

  2. Good for you! I know what you mean about wanting someone to make a big deal of your birthday. My family always made a big deal of birthdays and Matt’s didn’t so we have a bit of a disconnect there. To top it off, our birthdays are a day apart.

    Happy Birthday to you!

    1. We have a similar disconnect here. There’s kind of a “holidays are for kids” vibe that I get from my in-laws. They’re great at spoiling the grandkids on special days, but don’t really want much for themselves.

      That must be a challenge having your birthdays so close together! I like having the whole month of May to myself 🙂

  3. Happy belated birthday Lisa, hope u had a fab day. I can so understand what u mean, i’m the coordinator at my place, arranging everyone’s bday celebrations, picking out appropriate gifts for them n come my bday, i’m often left with somedisappointment. Mine’s a week from now n i’ve gotten my fingers crossed already!

    1. I really did have a fab day, thank you 🙂
      I hope your birthday is everything you want it to be – don’t forget to make some plans to celebrate for yourself, too! You are the one person in the world who you can always count on to know what you want 🙂

  4. I love this. It’s so perfect for me in my life right now for so many reasons. I have special needs family members, and I have been kind of resentful of being the one to provide these types of things. It hadn’t occurred to me how joyful it could be to own that — to be the provider of these things in our family. What a revelation. Thank you!!!!


    1. I am so glad it struck a chord with you. That resentment trap is not a pretty place to be. It’s nice when we can be on-top of it enough to pre-empt the grumbling with a little bit of joy!

  5. I love the little wisdoms that come to us as we get older. Or maybe every day but we don’t realize it. Happy belated birthday. I love that you celebrated you! Excellent. And your boys did what they do and were happy too. Win Win!

    1. It really is true: “live and learn!” I guess sayings become sayings for a reason 🙂

  6. Happy birthday!

    1. Thank you, Kara 🙂

  7. Two of my bloggy friends had yesterday-what a coincidence! You both must be special!

    1. Is Erin H. one of your bloggy friends, or is there another of us in the May 22 club? It is a popular birthday, I have noticed over the years 🙂

  8. I will be turning 42 this year, too! Happy Birthday! I love that you gave yourself the gift of happiness this year. Although I’m not a big birthday kind of person, I can definitely apply this philosophy to other parts of my life where I really want something and keep waiting for other people to fulfill the desire. BECOME THE BUNTING!

    1. BECOME THE BUNTING – I love it!
      The true test is whether I can remember this lesson the next time I expect my family to read my mind…
      I’m glad it resonated with you.
      PS. 1971 was a great year to be born 🙂

  9. From one Lisa to another, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!

    I always treat myself to a movie and buy a decadent dessert, sometimes a whole pie or cake. Of course, I eat it over a week and not just one day. 😉

    1. Thanks! That’s great that you always treat yourself – I wish I had started sooner 🙂

  10. […] hang up a birthday banner. Also, I had briefly toyed with the idea of making myself cupcakes again like last year, and I wanted a clean place in which to do that. I have since rejected the cupcake idea, but […]

  11. […] this afternoon hanging up some decorations, and baking a cherry cake. Because there’s nothing wrong with taking charge of your own birthday-related happiness […]

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