When I was growing up, Halloween was the launch of all our family holidays. Two weeks after Halloween, my birthday. Five days later, my mom’s. Ten days after hers, my dad’s. Thanksgiving in there somewhere real close to Dad’s. Then Christmas. There was a sustained level of festivity, a baseline of excitement throughout the months of November and December, a fine counterbalance to the seasonal darkness.
Now, it’s impossible for me to contemplate the launch of “birthday season” without running aground at November 28th. It doesn’t mean I won’t have a happy birthday. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the well-wishes of friends. It’s simply part of my reality, here in 2009.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also become less and less inclined to have birthday parties. It’s not because I’m Sensitive About My Age (which is now 38, in case you were curious), but rather because I find parties a source of as much anxiety as pleasure. Increasingly, I prefer to set the holiday tone in a lower key. If I don’t set myself up to have the Best Day Ever OMG, I’m more likely to enjoy the day I have.
But maybe what I perceive today as a significant shift away from the festivity-intensive end of the continuum would be more properly considered a swing of a pendulum that will one day swing back, and at 60 (or even 40) I’ll find myself avid for big celebrations. I wonder how much of what feels to me like a personal preference to not make a big deal out of my birthday* is actually more about the fact that I’m not turning a particularly significant age as far as this culture is concerned. Readers, where do you stand on birthday parties? And if you don’t mind saying, tell me how old you are when you answer.
*(Of course, one could argue that I’m deluding myself because blogging about one’s birthday is inherently making a big deal out of it, but any of y’all who are my Social Network Friends will have already been notified, anyway.)