Yes, January 4 was that one. But apparently somebody will still need me and feed me.
January 4 is actually a funny birthday. On one level, it’s unfortunately right after Christmas and New Year’s, so people are kind of over celebrating. And I can’t count the number of times we went back to school on my birthday. On the other hand, when I was a kid, my mother – every year – would buy me toys and such “for Christmas and birthday,” feel generous and put them all under the tree, and then go buy a new set of birthday presents at after-Christmas sales. That was kind of sweet. So it all depends on how you look at it. In fact, I once worked with a guy who told me in passing how much he hated his birthday, and I told him I loved mine. It turns out we were both born on January 4. I think about that a lot.
Anyway, fast forward to this year. Turning any blank-4 age means going from early in the decade to mid-decade, and I notice that more as I age. And my body lets me know I’m older: my eyesight has worsened, my left hip protests when I first get out of bed, and I appear to be building a defensive barrier of jowls around my neck. So there’s a trepidation associated with birthdays now that didn’t used to be there. This is normal, presumably, although not necessarily terribly comforting.
I ended up having a really lovely day, though. Many friends and family members sent electronic greetings; some of my buddies from Democrats Abroad Spain even put together a montage of video greetings, which really made my day. Friends in France sang “Happy Birthday” in a snowy video from Montpelier, and of course the kids were in touch. Mark bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. We capped the day off with a dinner at a local restaurant with 14 lovely friends. The wine flowed, people chatted, and I got more hugs and kisses than any human being deserves. Chocolates and limoncello might also have been involved, but I’ll never tell. And a couple of dear friends in Murcia violated my injunction against presents and gave me a beautiful necklace that I’ll treasure forever. What great people, and what a great day!
And that’s actually my takeaway from this birthday: joy is corporate. My happiness is bound up in this lovely community of friends and family, both near and far. This conclusion surprises me a little, since I think of myself as a bit of a loner, off in the corner with a book. But my dizzyingly happy day was all about being with others and the pure pleasure that brought. Maybe this old dog can still learn a few new tricks.
I’ll leave you with one final image of my day. As we were getting ready for bed on the 3rd, I was a bit pouty-faced about changing ages. I’m old, said my brain; I’m old and I’m just going to keep getting older (duh, or keel over). Once again, my community saved me. My precious husband called up “When I’m 64” from his playlist, pulled me off my moody couch, and danced me around the room. That’s magic, folks, and I’m here to tell you it’s real. In fact, I’ve decided that next year’s birthday, should I be lucky enough to have one, is also going to be Beatle-themed. Except this time I’m going with “With a Little Help from my Friends.”