Nov 2, 2013

You've Had A Birthday.

What makes a birthday special? As I was reading through all the things that people on Facebook wished for me for my recent birthday I found myself thinking about this question.  Post after post everyone said in some way or another that they hoped my birthday was special. What does it mean if something is special? It means it is going to be different or distinguished from what is normal. If something is not special it is general. So I thought about what I do everyday that makes those days normal and then I thought about things that make a day different or distinguished from the normal. And I have to confess to all my dear Facebook friends despite all your amazingly kind wishes and hopes my birthday was general :) But the good news is that is okay because it is normal :)

Some of my Facebook friends hoped that someone had made me my favorite cake for my birthday. Years ago when we lived in Princeton, New Jersey this very sweet Japanese lady in my ward at church made me the most elegant and yummy cake for my birthday and I was so touched. She and I were nowhere near best friends. I had visited her a few times and we had talked about the bombing of Nagasaki but that was all. No one had ever gone to that much work for me since I had become a grown up. And I was amazed to discover how that felt. I am not really sure what my favorite dessert is. I think for me it is just the thought that you went to some work to make something with sugar in it for me. That same year another sweet lady in my Princeton Ward bought me a shirt from the Gap for my birthday. This was another first for me. I had never had a friend of mine buy me a gift of clothes before. I loved that shirt and I wore it until it got holes in it and I was forced to get rid of it. We had no money and a shirt from the Gap for myself was unthinkable on my budget at the time. I remember I was so enamored with even the Gap box the shirt came in. It made me feel so special.

People used words like super, terrific, wonderful, delightful, great, fabulous, awesome, and amazing to describe how they hoped my day would go. I found myself wondering what would have to happen for me to feel like I could use one of those words to describe my day of birth celebration? I think the perfect birthday would be someone I completely adore being with telling me they were going to pick me up at some ungodly hour in the morning and that we were going to go hike to the top of a mountain and watch the sun come up. Then we would go for an epic drive and talk and talk and talk and then go eat somewhere little, unique and yummy. And then spend hours finding funny and cool things on youtube to watch....yeah, I am a weirdo huh? It would not really matter what I was doing it would just feel amazing to have someone want to sacrifice a day and want to listen to me and talk with me all day. Just to be noticed. I have never been a give me a gift kind of girl. I want your time and full attention and words :)

I will never forget my 12th birthday. My parents threw me a boy/girl surprise party. I was surprised and it was truly the best. I got three necklaces from boys as presents that night and I thought it meant they all liked me but now I realize it meant their moms picked out my present :) But I felt so special and thought of :)

I wonder if that is what makes a birthday great is someone doing something for you that makes you realize they understand you, listen to you, and "get" you. Someone doing something for you that you know was a sacrifice for them. High maintenance? Who me? :)

I had a pretty great birthday a few years ago when my, "used to be annual" New York City girl trip ended up being on my birthday. My sweet friends and sister bought me a cupcake without me knowing it and gave it to me in the morning in the hotel room. We stayed in the Waldorf Astoria and I woke up to sunlight pushing through the light curtains that were hanging from these super tall windows and I laid there and thought about all sorts of things for awhile. We spent the day in New York City which I completely adore doing. I love the people watching. I love the sights. I love the sounds. I love the walking. I love everything about New York City. Birthday and New York City are very a very sweet combination :)

It takes a lot of effort to do a birthday right. To know somebody well enough to know what would make their day feel distinguished and different. I have had people do something as simple as buy me some magazines from the checkout counter at the store and put them in a gift bag but it meant the world to me because I would never buy those for myself and yet I sometimes want to read them. I have had people show up throughout the years at my door with a simple offering of a treat and it meant so much to me. I know how much it takes to remember and then to execute when you have your normal life to also keep up. My birthday comes right before a holiday when people are very busy with school parties and Halloween costumes and I know someone really loves me when they appear in the middle of all that chaos with even just a card for me.

I try year after year not to have too many expectations for my birthday. But I confess I still have a fantasy in my head of what would be an ever so perfect birthday. I have found that lately I do not want anyone to acknowledge me or reach out to me at all so I did not make it easy for anyone to celebrate me this year and I am grateful for the few that saw past that and recognized what was really under all those protestations that I really did not need anything. There is something about finding out even if it is just for one day out of 365 that you are appreciated. That people recognize your goodness and talents and want you to know.

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