My birthday has always been a special day of the year because my parents always made it a special day for me. I’m turning twenty-five years old this year, a quarter birthday, and for the first time in my life I will not be spending my birthday with my family. It sucks, I hate it, but apparently this stuff happens when you grow up and move away from home.
I’ve been feeling a little down about the fact that I won’t be able to see my family this year for my birthday and it got me thinking about my past birthdays, all twenty-four of them. It’s funny–I can’t remember most of my birthday parties that I had with my friends… Why? I’m not sure. 6th grade-junior year are sort of missing from my memories. But I can remember other things about my birthday, other things that make me smile and make me wonder if I remember them because they have more significance than a few birthday parties that involved my friends.
Like how my mom would wake up extra early to make me a special home-cooked birthday breakfast of either French toast or biscuits and gravy with bacon. She went into work around 7 or 7:30 am, so yes, she got up extra early to do this for me. In high school this changed. My parents and I would wake up extra early to go eat at Sevi’s, my favorite burrito shop. I believe we got there at like 6 a.m.! But if you know of Sevi’s, then you know it was worth it.
I also remember how my dad used to wake me up on my birthday. He’d crank his stereo really loud and play “Birthday” by the Beatles and then come into my room singing and dancing and making me get up to dance as well. He’d keep the song on repeat until he left for work. I think my birthday was the only day that I did not wake up grumpy because although the music was loud and I was sleepy, I really appreciated him being excited about me and my birthday.
And no matter if I was in high school, junior high, or college, my dad always called me on my birthday to sing, “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, you look like a monkey, you stink like one too.”
Even now, I’m starting to tear up at the thought of these birthday morning rituals.
Sometimes, my parents would bring lunch to school on my birthday and I think I even recall my parents bringing cupcakes for me and my classmates.
Most of my birthdays, my mom made my birthday cake. I used to want white icing with chocolate cake but as I got older it changed to double chocolate. My brother, a surprisingly great dessert chef, made my cakes the last few years.
My earliest birthday memory involves a party that was held at Edgemere Park, a park down the street from my house. My friends from school, the neighborhood kids, and my family were present for this birthday. There was a white cake and a slide that I raced my friends to slide down.
Most of my birthdays growing up were sleepovers. When I was in elementary this meant twenty girls staying the night at the house. My parents would order pizza or make hamburgers and hot dogs. A few of these parties involved piñatas or games that my parents set up, like racing with an egg on a spoon. Sometimes these parties just involved jumping on our trampoline and movies when the sun set.
I remember one year, I asked my dad to play “Birthday” late in the evening and I convinced my friends to join me in dancing in our pajamas down our hallway and into the living room. My friends and I laughed and danced and threw all thoughts of “what was cool” or “uncool” out the door to just enjoy ourselves.
For my eighteenth birthday my best friend Abby and I had an 80’s skate night party at the local skate rink, Skate Whirl. We dressed up in bright colored leotards, tights, and leg warmers, put our hair up in side ponytails and skated the night away to cool 80’s tunes. Our parents had gotten us a huge cake with a picture of me and Abby from when we were six printed on the cake.
Not only did I have a great time with my friends but I remember my sister being really happy to see me that night and how much she smiled when she took pictures with me and that she gave me a few birthday hugs.
I’ve forgotten a lot of birthday parties but I remember the hugs my sister gave, the cakes my brother made, the music my dad made, and the breakfast my mom made.
When I left for college, my birthdays became nights out at the club or bar with my friends. My birthday happens to fall around Easter so I would also be home for the weekend of my birthday and my parents would throw a cookout and invite my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
In graduate school, my birthday parties with my friends became more extravagant: dancing with my friends at clubs, a pole dancing class birthday party, a fashion charity show with the OKC Thunder players and hanging out with them at the after-party, and birthday trips to Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
During undergraduate school and graduate school, my mom would always make sure to send me something in the mail so that I would have something to open on my birthday, especially if I wasn’t able to come home until the next weekend for my birthday. And usually they had a present for me when I came home, too. Yes, I was spoiled greatly on my birthday.
This year, I’m going to Ireland for my birthday. I will not be able to talk with them until the evening of my birthday due to the time difference. When I return to the States, I won’t be able to see them or celebrate my birthday. So this year, is tough for me. I’m excited about Ireland but I hate that it means I won’t be with my family. It’s definitely a brand new type of birthday memory for me.
I love my family and the love they have shown for me on March 31st every year and although I can’t be with them physically this year, I know that they will still make me feel special and loved by them on my quarter century birthday.
Twenty four birthdays and only a handful of memories, but a handful that I would not replace for anything because they represent the love of my family for me.