On Birthdays

Yesterday was my 64th birthday.  I’m not a big fan of birthdays.  I should probably clarify that further to say I’m not a big fan of celebrating birthdays.  Narrow that down a tad further and you come much closer to the truth: I’m not a big fan of celebrating MY birthday.

When I was a kid, birthdays were these crazy awesome days when you had parties where your friends were forced to come over and give you stuff.  It was right up there with Christmas on the “get cool stuff” scale.  It was also a day all about you – when you could be completely self centered and nobody would fault you for it.  As you grow up, though, you start getting fewer and fewer gifts, and people start getting mad at you if you’re too self centered.  Birthdays lose that magical charm that they had when you were a kid.

Some of them still hold a bit of that “this is a big deal” kind of feeling.   Turning 16 and finally being eligible to get your drivers license (next birthday for my oldest grandson Jonathan).   Turning 18 and being allowed to vote and go to R rated movies legally.  Turning 21 and being able to legally have a scotch.  And – while I admit this one is a stretch – turning 25 and seeing your car insurance rates drop.   These are all rites of passage as we grow up,   milestones we reach as we survive longer and longer in the world.  But… what happens after that?

A whole lot of nothing, actually.  There are now special things to look forward to (in terms of new things you can do / get because of your age) until you hit retirement age.   That’s only really exciting if you’ve done what you should have done and set up retirement accounts (and funded them!).  So – for me – my birthday just isn’t that special.  It’s just another day.

Every year I know I can look forward to e-cards(6 yesterday) and phone calls(only 1 yesterday) and social media comments ( facebook/tweets/g+/linkedin) on my birthday (with real cards from family and presents from my wife Sheila and our foster son John),  and the past few years a nice dinner at the Frederica House while at the Southeastern Writers Workshop.  I’ve always enjoyed it and appreciated it.   It was low key – and nobody drew too much attention to it (just the way I like it).

This year I got a bit more than I bargained for.   I got all of the usual birthday cards from my family… but I also got something more.  I got a phone card from Fledge and Julie Fiamingo.   Julie has a beautiful voice but Fledge was the one who sang “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone.  Then he asked if he and Julie could bring the kids over to visit me that evening.  I said yes.  They did and Brody and Keaton bounced in to the living room later and promptly shouted “Happy Birthday Papa Tim”!  Julie came it with a birthday parfait (delicious!) and handed me McKinna who cooed and reminded me of when my daughters were babies.  They were the only people to visit yesterday.  It was very special.   I also had a TON of people wish me happy birthday on Facebook – something that I haven’t been doing lately because I thought this is too easy to mean anything.   I was wrong.

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