Putting the Happy in the Birthday

Not to brag, but Google is celebrating my birthday today! They had this picture waiting for me. Thanks Google! You know I love you more than anyone, huh?

So it’s my birthday. I am 54 today. A bit weird to think about, stunning even, but I believe having the opportunity to live a lot of years on this earth is a good thing. I am not ashamed of the age, but instead grateful. Good thing, since there would be no way to escape it. I am surrounded by a lot of people who have known me for a lot of years, and they would gleefully call me out on it if I did!

I’ve had some bad birthdays over the years. Not a lot, but enough that the last time it happened (which wasn’t that long ago) I did a bit of self analysis. I realized I was expecting other people to put the happy into my birthday.

My large family has never been big on celebrating the birthdays of adults (though hopefully every kid has great memories of wonderful celebrations, even if Aunt Kim’s gifts rarely make it to them on the day.) I know without a doubt that my mom will call and sing to me today, and I expect I will hear from most of the siblings (OK…I had better hear from all) and some of the nieces and nephews. But that is the extent to our family celebrations. No complaints here, because I am notorious for forgetting important days in general and I would be a constant disappointment to everyone if  they depended on me to remember and lead the celebrations. There is no pressure in our family for birthdays and I like that.

But I have had a few birthdays that have come around and I realized I had absolutely no plans of any sort of celebration. No one had mentioned doing anything, and it just creeped up on me, and really when I realized it….well, it was a bit embarrassing that I had no plans. What do you do, say at the last minute “It’s my birthday, will someone celebrate with me?” I once thought that would be horrifying, but now I think it would be perfectly appropriate!

When that has happened in the past I admit there are times I had a pity party for one. It made it a day of sadness instead of a day of celebration of the wonderful life I was given. That is not how I now choose to live. (And yes, I believe if you do spend your birthday in sadness, it is your choice. And it is not one of your better choices.)

I am not the only one who has experienced those feelings…..I know! Not that we will often publicly admit it. It is a point of shame. We human beings are quite silly about such things.

While often my lack of plans have to do with the simple fact of being single and everyone thinking I have all sorts of wonderful and exciting things going on (Ha!), others experience the letdown of having spouses, kids, and significant others fail to meet their birthday expectations. Sometimes they hijack “my day” and make it about them. Or just not about us. They love you, or proclaim they love you, but you’re not feeling it. They don’t think for a minute of how you would most like to celebrate. They plan something, but it is what they want to do and not what you want to do. They refuse to leave their comfort zone for even a minute to make the day special for you.

You think I am going to blast them, huh? Truth is, you own your birthday (as you do all of your days.) They are a gift to you from God. They should all be celebrated, and you should plan the celebration, and not depend on others to make it happy for you. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t accept someone else planning a celebration on your behalf….gratefully accept it and enjoy it. Grade them on a curve if it is not exactly how you would do it. People fall short at this for a lot of reasons. It isn’t necessarily an indication of how much they care….or don’t care. Sometimes it is just a difference in how they view birthdays…..or the fact that they are pre-occupied with things that have nothing to do with you. (Yeah, sometimes that pre-occupation is with themselves. It happens. With most of us. We’re basically self-centered sinners.) Sometimes they freeze because they are like deer in the headlights….they know they need to do something, but can’t decide what. Other times it a time to be passive-aggressive, for reasons that may or may not have anything to do with you. Regardless, it is definitely not something to waste much of your life grieving about! (And some of you, of us, have spent valuable time obsessing on this….admit it!) Take back the ownership of your day. Don’t try to force them to make you happy. That’s an impossible task.

The celebration of you by others (or lack thereof) doesn’t have to be the extent of your own celebration. If it is not the way you prefer to celebrate your life, throw your own birthday party. You can even be the only guest! It doesn’t even have to be on the day. Just ask yourself “what makes me feel alive and full of joy and grateful to God for my gift of life?”….and do it!

Really I am not whining about my lousy life here, because as most of you know (and I definitely do) my life is more than wonderful and worthy of great celebration. I am well loved. I celebrate that. Since I have taken ownership for my birthdays, they have become much more enjoyable. Mostly because now I see the celebration as my job and the focus of my day. I will be grateful for all I have been given. I will be happy, I will be joyful. For me, how the hours are spent are not nearly as important as my state of mind as I celebrate them. More than any other say of the year I want to focus on the fact that life is a gift, and is so, so good!

My plans for my day are to get a massage from my awesome friend Diana, and then she is taking me out to lunch. We also plan to get our nails done. Tonight I get to attend a birthday party celebrating my friend Patrice, for whom it is one of those special “end in 0” birthdays. She is a great gift to my life, so what a great opportunity!

At some point today I plan to eat cake. Good cake. Chocolate. One of the “bad” birthday memories that most makes me laugh about myself is the birthday I cried because the day was totally uneventful and I DIDN’T EVEN GET CAKE! Oh, the tragedy! One of those times when I had that moment when I realized what I was doing and I was a bit horrified. I said to myself.  “Really?????? This is what is important to you?” (And my answer was yes. Sort of. But I had to laugh.)
But such “tragedies” are an easy thing to remedy. If I don’t get my chocolate cake today (and I mean really good chocolate cake….bad cake is also tragic), I will prolong the celebration and eat it soon.  I now acknowledge I can celebrate my birthday any day because any day is a good day to celebrate the fact that we were born. Why limit it?
So happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to you. I am so glad we were born. Celebrate your life well…and thank God for the days and the years. You are the gift. Share yourself with the world. And bring the happy to your own party.


  1. Kim: So needed to hear that amazing ANTI-pity-party positivity today, and it's not even MY b'day. 😉 Seriously, I always come away with something wonderful after reading your blogs. They lift me up or teach me something and the best ones, do BOTH! Luv ya, and happy birthday WEEK dear lady! xoxoxoxo Joycie


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