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Birthdays come but once per year, not everyone is glad to see it come and most are happier once the day has passed.  Some choose not to observe the day at all.  Birthdays bring upon us a mountain of emotions from sad to happy, excited to suspenseful and all other feelings in between.  There are also those milestone birthdays we come to where friends and family find it humorous to make us the center of their jokes, with all of that over the hill paraphernalia that the greeting card companies and party supply stores make a fortune from.  People look upon past birthday events especially from their childhood and also feel the same range of memories and emotions depending upon whether the birthdays were a happy or sad occasion for them, something they will always remember whether it was a good or bad time in their lives.

Having recently celebrated my forty-first birthday I feel that I have passed enough of them to speak on the subject.  As a child, you weren’t in control of how the day was celebrated.  Hopefully, your parents did their very best to make it a happy occasion for you and hopefully, you were taught enough manners to appreciate whatever effort was made, even if it was lacking.  If you look back upon those past birthdays with saddened heart or little fondness, my apologies to you and I wish for you, someday, the birthday of a lifetime, balloons, streamers, the works.

During my childhood I was very fortunate to have parents who thought the day should be celebrated with family, friends, gifts, sleep-overs, cake and ice cream, every single classmate, parties, streamers, hats, balloons, magicians; my list could continue indefinitely.  I remember my mother and I hand making my birthday party streamers every year; the kind where you take two different colors of crepe streamers and twist them together to make these infinitely long piles of crepe.  Once strung all over the house how lovely they were.  Thank you Momma!

I agree that as we progress through life it isn’t that our birthdays become any less important to us, it is just that as adults we fill our lives with so many obligations that it is sometimes difficult to fit anything else in.  A birthday to many is a luxury and to others their children take up the slack where birthdays are concerned.  My idea of birthday gifts has also changed over the years.  No longer do I wish for store-bought items.  Now, my ideal gifts are all handmade and from the heart.

As we age, it becomes more of our own responsibility to make our birthdays what we want them to be.  If someone, anyone, family, friend, co-worker or stranger should ask you what you want for your birthday, or what you want to do, or how you want to celebrate the event, tell them.  Don’t be bashful or expect them to read your mind and plan the perfect party for you just to lead to your disappointment when it doesn’t go as you had visioned, or doesn’t happen at all.

My day started as a morning trip to the Children’s Story Time at Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe with our host and storyteller Crystal O’Gorman; columnist with Modern Parent Online.  It never hurts my feelings to thumb through shelves of books so I felt right at home.  Within an hour or so we had made new friends, heard and read stories and purchased a few “oldies” for later reading.  A pretty good beginning to my birthday day.

I was asked this year what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I gave it some actual thought.  Standard suggestions were given by family including going out to eat to celebrate.  I definitely knew that going “out” to eat was not an option. Why do that anyway?  The result is to gather your family and friends, decide on an establishment, a time, the attire, etc., then head out to a busy restaurant, eat a substandard meal with over priced iced tea and a lack-less conversation that can barely be heard above the noise and confusion occurring around you.  You eat, have some cake, pay the bill, give kisses and farewells and thank yous, get back in the car just to think; what in the heck just happened in there?

I delicately suggested that we skip the hullabaloo of dining out, and have a private, special, family luncheon.  You know the kind, almost like a picnic inside, since it is January and we are in the south?  I requested handmade everything.  Handmade cards, handmade sandwiches, handmade deserts, etc.  Elated to the brim of my birthday hat that is exactly what I received!

Momma and Mamaw made sandwiches.  Egg salad, corned beef, Swiss-ham and poppy-seed mini-sandwiches, southern sweet tea and Spanish green olives for garnish.  We had ice cream, homemade banana pudding and white chocolate truffle cake.  Delicious and perfectly planned by all!

Dave made me a Betty Crocker cake, all by himself with a side of beautiful flowers.  Huckleberry one made me a heartfelt card with a personally written poem, which was as honest as it was beautiful, even though she had to interpret the French parts.  Huck Two, artist that he is, provided me with his own version of a colorful handmade card with sentiments inside truly from the heart as well.  Little Huck, well that little fellow worked an entire evening in the shop to make me a personalized bench, seat, or footstool, whichever I may need it for.  Big project for a seven-year old!

We finished the day with a very casual family photograph.  I am proud of my family for knowing what birthdays are really about and making me feel so special and loved~