I haven’t had a big birthday celebration since I turned 20 years old. I was studying abroad in Paris, and my birthday also happened to be the last day of finals. Somehow, my friends and I managed to convince almost everyone in our program to come celebrate at our favorite bar. We had a blast.
Every birthday since has been considerably more mellow.
Even the all-important 21st birthday was not that huge a deal. I don’t even remember what I did, but I know for a fact it wasn’t a huge celebration like the year before. The rest of my 20s were celebrated by going to dinner with Bill, maybe going to see a movie. I turned 30 years old a few weeks after we brought Dylan home and I remember that day vividly – it was spent hanging out in the backyard with Bill and Dylan, then we had a small family gathering with some barbecue and cake. It was a lovely day.
However, I missed the big birthday celebrations. I kept envisioning a big bash full of family and friends like the one I threw every year for the kids, and I told myself that the next big milestone – 35 – would be the one where we’d have a big party for me. I told Bill at the beginning of the year that turning 35 is a big deal for women and that I wanted a big celebration.
My birthday was a few days ago, and we did not do very much at all.
Bill is not to blame. I think he would have thrown me a big bash, but we wanted to redo our patio and I – ever the practical one – decided that I would rather spend the money on that than on a big party. I was a little sad on the days leading up to my birthday, though, thinking that maybe the day would be a big letdown.
I decided to take action. Instead of letting it be just another day, I asked the baby sitter to come in early in the day and treated myself to a 90-minute massage, then met up with a friend of mine for lunch before heading to the movies with her to see Iron Man 3, which I had been dying to see. After the movie I went back home and spent some time with the boys while Bill finished up work, and then we all headed to my favorite restaurant for dinner. It was a very relaxing, easy day, with no big fanfare and no huge celebration.
I loved every minute of it.
Do I still want a big birthday bash one day? I still love the idea. Maybe when I’m 40 I will consider it again. In the meantime, I will continue to cherish these small celebrations with the people I love most in the world, and I know that at the end of the day I will go to bed with a big smile on my face and a huge, contented sigh.
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