Birthday Magic

Today, my birthday eyes me from the calendar like a big dog craving a cheeseburger.

When did the magic disappear?

Me, age 5, proud of my birthday dress

Childhood

When I was little, February dragged in slow-mo. But TV’s Captain Kangaroo always sang and dedicated a candle-laden cake on my special day. (That he serenaded thousands of kids born in March didn’t occur to me.)

Mom asked what I would like for dinner. No washing dishes! I received gifts, including my first bicycle at age 11.

Hiking the distance to my magical 16th birthday took forever. Not only would I drive then, but pimples would vanish, and long-overdue curves would appear.

The next day, still cursed with a negative bust measurement, I suffered the first inklings of cynicism.

The Twenties

Five years later, even with girlfriends celebrating and 21 roses arriving from my long-distance fiancé, a cold, adult realization icicled the hoopla.

Birthdays wouldn’t stop.

The Thirties

When I turned 30, Hubby tried to soften the blow with a pretty plant — cheaper than roses. Our baby refrained from puking on me that day, though she refused to skip diaper changes.

Three children steered birthdays toward a new frontier of McDonald’s parties, giggly sleepovers and laser-tag wars. Years before, I didn’t think I’d live until my birthday. Now I hoped I would survive theirs.

Fellow mothers and I learned to recreate magic, commemorating each other’s birthdays with to-die-for cakes topped by only one candle and gifts we really wanted.

The Forties

The year my husband and I turned 40, birthday carolers wearing pajamas serenaded us. They brought a beautifully decorated cemetery cake, complete with a figure crawling out of a grave.

Hubby served on a board that accidentally established a unique birthday tradition. During a meeting, someone arranged for a cake to celebrate a new member’s birthday. The guy’s surprise was even bigger than we anticipated, as his birthday would not arrive for months. We had so much fun that wrong-day bashes for new members became a yearly ritual.

The AARPies

Years sprinted past, and my birthdays faded in favor of grandchildren’s head-splitting, joyous celebrations.

Not long ago, I changed decades. Immersed in a writing project, I barely looked up from my desk. A birthday only meant I was growing older, fatter and weirder.

Our son called. Could we meet at a coffeehouse in our old hometown?

Upon arrival, we didn’t see his car. I kidded, “Hope they remember they asked us.

Hubby smiled as he opened the door. Our children and their spouses hugged me. All the grandkids. And dear friends, gifts unmatched by any they could bring.

Birthday magic was back. Better than ever.

Has growing older proved magical for you lately?

10 thoughts on “Birthday Magic

  1. Donna Cronk

    Rachael,
    Two years ago I got to stay the same age on my birthday. That was nice.
    I had mentioned my age in a blog during the year and a close friend who is also my age messaged me and said, “Donna, you are not 56! We are 57!”
    Rather than do the math (not my strong suit anyway) I thought I was simply senile and started referring to myself as 57. I was 57 and that was that.
    But when it was time to turn 58, a funny thing happened. I DID the math and realized that I had been right all along. I would NOT be turning 58, I would be 57.
    So, I got to be 57 for a really long time. And so did my friend when I finally convinced her that she was the one who was senile!

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Hahaha, Donna! That’s what friends are for, right? While I wouldn’t mind a few less creaks and a for-real waistline, I like the age I’m at. Now, if I could just STAY here for a couple of decades 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and the grin this morning.

      Reply
      1. Janny

        A waistline? What’s that? Seriously…even when I was below 100 pounds, I didn’t have what you’d call a “waistline.” The Lithuanian build I inherited basically goes straight up and down, so to find a “waistline” I have to follow the old Erma Bombeck quote: “Bend over and we’ll mark the crease.” And that has only become WORSE with age.

        Being on the same side of 60 you are, I try not to look too closely toward the light at the end of the tunnel, lest it be a freight train. YOU, however, do not SHOW your age, dahlink…must be all that clean living. Or chocolate. Or something.

        My daughter gives me the best “age” stuff of all, though, because she insists I am still 49. The funny part about that was, she spent so much time saying it that one time, when she had to put down her parents’ dates of births for an application form at school, she had to call me at work and ask me what year I was ACTUALLY born in. She’d literally forgotten it. 😉 I still tease her about that one!

        Have a great day, regardless, Rachael. And yes, I LOVE birthdays…even now.

        Reply
        1. rachael Post author

          Thanks, Janny! I hadn’t thought of the chocolate theory, but that makes incredible sense. Since my daughter sent me some yummy chocolates for my birthday, I’ll have to conduct some extensive experiments–for the sake of science, of course.

          Hahaha, I hadn’t heard that particular Erma Bombeck quote! At any rate, waistlines are highly overrated.

          Though that is one of the things I look forward to in heaven. Jesus has promised me a perfect body, which, He and the whole world knows, I’ve never had. As for the freight train at the end of the tunnel, He’s given me a ticket on that Glory Train, and I plan to sing all the way 🙂

          Reply
  2. Ginger Solomon

    Well, Rachael, you do not look a day over 50, so maybe it will be a good decade for you. 🙂

    I love your big smile in the pic above. You’re having fun, and isn’t that really what makes life “more abundant?” The little joys — a plant, a surprise party, a grandchild.

    Happy Birthday.

    Reply
    1. rachael Post author

      Thanks so much, Ginger–but I turned 60 in that pic! And now, I’m an undetermined few years older 🙂 Thanks for making my day, though! And yes, I had a blast! Tonight, going out to eat with sweet hubby, and this weekend, I’m spending time with three of my grandkids–doesn’t get better than that. 🙂

      Reply

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