My birthday has always been a bigger deal to me than it has been for everyone else in my life. My parents always tried their best. Sometimes they bought a cake, sometimes they bought a present, sometimes they said happy birthday, sometimes they remembered and sometimes I reminded them a week later.
I don’t blame them for not knowing that I always wanted a fabulous Prince Ali parade through Agrabah in order to feel like my birthday was celebrated – I was asking a lot from them. I wanted them to make a big deal over my english birthday and an even bigger deal on my Hebrew birthday. My Hebrew birthday is more meaningful because of the spiritual connection that it brings. This is the day G-d chose to bring me into this world and I am thankful to be given this time. And shouldn’t the rest of you feel the same way?
What I’ve come to learn over the years is to create the day that I want. If I want the day to feel special, I am going to make sure I have a crown or a sash draped across my body so strangers and friends are forced to say, “happy birthday!” no matter how uncomfortable they feel by my childish decisions. I’ve spent so many years trying to justify why my birthday is a big deal and the answer is, I don’t know.
It just is.
I’m going to tell you about my 20th birthday.
I was in Israel for the year and I flew into Miami for my brother’s wedding. I arrived the night of my birthday and my mother came to pick me up. I was walking out of the terminal like Sandra Bullock
from Miss Congeniality, all wind blown and ready to for my celebration.
My mother embraced me, I embrace her and then there was this moment. I’m looking at her with wide expectant eyes and she’s looking at me with squinted, quizzical eyes.
“What’s wrong chana?”
“Do you know it’s my birthday.”
“Of course I know! I know! Look what we have for you.”
Okay, crisis averted. That was close. This was almost a really shitty night.
I walk with my mother to the back of the car and she opens the trunk. I see a balloon that says ‘happy birthday.’ The balloon had no life left inside of it because it was one of those balloons that you get from CVS, that you blow up on your own. Clearly not much effort was put into it. I was happy it said ‘happy birthday,’ it just didn’t look much like a balloon. It looked more like a string with a hazelnut attached to the end of it.
“Happy birthday chana!”
Yes happy birthday to me.
Now I’m going to tell you about my 34th birthday.
In the morning, my family and I went to the beach at sunrise for a photo shoot with @rachelfelligphotography. She was able to capture beautiful moments in between my kids complaining about how cold it was. @rachelfelligphotography said it perfectly, “They’re like iguanas, as soon as it gets cold, they start falling out of trees.” Yes they completely fell apart in temperatures below 60 degrees.
We had coffee, we posed, we tried to relax and we watched the sun come up.
My next stop was the pool for some laps and then I sat down to write.
I had lunch delivered by a friend. I said Tehillim. I gave Tzedakah. I had family come over to spend time together.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning up from the weekend, preparing lunches and uniforms for my kids, trying to toilet train my toddler and carpooling my kids around town because they’re young and think I’m an uber driver. I’m looking to invest in a plexi glass divider for my minivan to benefit from their delusion.
The day was perfectly set in reality and at the same time felt special enough to feel celebrated.
I’m not going to let myself think about how I resisted cooking every time my kids told me they were hungry.
I don’t cook on birthdays, I’m too busy celebrating.
I’m realizing now their requests for meals came from a genuine place, they spent most of the day watching movies and eating crumbs from crackers. I do feel some guilt feel but not enough to have done anything differently.
Here’s my birthday wish to you ( today is the Hebrew so it matters; )
I wish for you to find a way to live your life that feels true to who you are and leaves less room for regret and guilt. Thia year should be the year that’s memorable for the leasons you’ve learned and the laughs you’ve shared. And above all, good health for you to continue growing and living a long and full life.
( Amen )
My english birthday is January 13. I accept balloons in all shapes and sizes. I’m just putting it out there.