By Ruth Bayang
The older I get, the more I realize that every day on this earth is a day that I wasn’t guaranteed — that it is a gift. I have come to cherish the day of my birth as a celebration of not only my life, but the lives of the other people that make and have made my life, a life worth living.
The best birthday gifts I got this year were phone calls from my two children — one is in California, another in Florida. It was my first time in many decades that I’ve marked a birthday without either of them by my side. It was nice to know that they remembered their dear ol’ mom.
Growing up, birthdays were a big deal. My parents threw me a birthday party and invited my friends to be with me on my special day. When it was a friend’s birthday, that friend’s parents would invite everyone over for a celebration. It felt good and when it was my turn, I always felt important, loved, and appreciated. It was also fun going to other people’s parties.
As a child, I also noticed that my parents, and many adults, did not celebrate their birthdays. Why do birthdays that aren’t “milestone birthdays” — like turning 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, etc. — cease to be a big deal once you become an adult?
I went through a phase where I played it cool. I would give off the “It’s my birthday, it’s not a big deal” attitude because I felt that was what’s expected of me, as an adult. Well, I’m over that phase now. I celebrate my birthday because I’m glad to be alive, I’m not ashamed to reveal my age (45), and I don’t fear that “the end is near.”
I don’t expect a big party every year or for my friends to make a huge deal out of it, but I do like to be acknowledged. It’s really nice to receive “happy birthday” greetings from friends and relatives from every corner of the world. To me, the best presents are other people acknowledging my presence in their lives.
When it’s your day, have fun and embrace it. Don’t downplay it, and allow others to acknowledge all that is the amazing you.