Last week I received a beautiful card in the mail for my birthday. The sender recognized my affinity for nature and knew my favorite colors. The card meant a lot to me. Each year, as my birthday draws nearer, I tend to reminisce a little about past birthdays.
When I was a child I didn’t like the fact that I was born in June. Usually school was out for the summer. My school friends were often away on vacation. Sometimes my family would be on vacation as well. Even so, one birthday memory stands out from all the rest.
My tenth birthday was celebrated at a campground in the Smoky Mountains. As a family, we were busy living the camp life and I thought my birthday would be ignored. Boy was I surprised when out of nowhere my mom presented me with a cake. We were miles from a store or a bakery, and she had no oven in our little trailer.
Children always look forward to their birthdays with excitement. They feel as they grow older, each year brings new freedoms. Their parents might consider them old enough to care for a pet, date, drive, or eventually move out.
All of us keep birthday traditions. Our celebrations include a cake with candles, the song, “Happy Birthday,” and making a secret wish before blowing out the candles. If we don’t blow out all the candles with one breath, our wish will not come true.
But how many of us remember all the wishes we’ve made? I guess if we did, we wouldn’t tell anyone about it. After all they were all secret wishes.
As the years roll on.. birthdays are no longer a rite of passage. And by the time we enter our retirement years we would rather slow life down instead of speeding it up.
Women especially, go through a lot of inner turmoil about growing older. We experience a season of not wanting anyone to know our age. When I hit sixty I didn’t care anymore. On good days I feel proud that I can still do many of the things I’ve always done. At other times I use my age as a reason to excuse myself from activities I’d rather not do. I no longer feel a burning desire to spend a whole day at a theme park.
Last year I wrote a poem about turning 64, entitled…
hot pink candles
drip wax on swirls of chocolate frosting
everyone smiles as
the usual off key voices
sing the last note of the classic melody
what to wish?
For an encore allowing more time to think?
Or perhaps more years to live?
I inhale until the pressure forces me
to let go
What do birthdays mean to you? Do you have a special birthday memory? Leave a comment. You might be interested in two other age related posts: Now I’m Sixty-Four and Redefining Age With Valerie Ramsey.