Today ends my series on birthdays. I’ve covered birthdays for Wild Things (aka 11-year-old boys) and birthdays for giggly 14-year-old girls…and now will conclude with what happens when you get OLD and are three feet away from the grave. (Since it’s “Plan your Epitaph Day”…it’s fitting).
From your 1st birthday on…you’re on your way to getting OLD. When you’re YOUNG, birthdays are magical. The world cares that you have grown another year older and nice people (like your Mom) honor you with a beautiful cake and presents and a bunch of other hullabaloo. My mom made the coolest cakes for me as I toiled to grow OLDER each year.
As the years passed, my mom marked each of my milestones (or yearstones) with another cake just for ME! I was the awesome superhero of the day, because I had somehow managed to be born on the one day of the year that is most miraculous.
When you’re young, the world bows to your wishes on your day. Candles mean something—flames symbolizing hope and wisdom–and you MUST have the EXACT number representing your age, or the world will disintegrate into dust or something horrible like that.
And then you get OLD.
I don’t know when it happens. Age creeps up on you (you notice it when you look back through pictures), and before you know it…your birthday is just another day. No one bows to your wishes; they just holler out their breakfast order and tell you that you don’t match. Candles come to symbolize forest fires, and the only Superhero you resemble is the saggy Mermaid Man or Barnacle Boy from Sponge Bob Square Pants.
When you get OLD, your friends might pat you on the back and say, “Happy Birthday;” you’ll get dozens of “Happy Birthday” messages on Facebook; and your family might be nice enough to make you breakfast, but there isn’t any excitement or superhero quality to it like when you were YOUNG.
Your family might throw your presents in whatever they can find—a trumpet case, the dog’s hairy blanket, boxes without any paper (but hey, in my defense, it would have cost a lot of money to wrap those big boxes; the gift was hidden—that’s all that mattered, right?)
When you get OLD, candles don’t matter anymore either. Who cares what age you really are—you’re OLD! Someone looks in the cupboard and finds 17 candles, and Wa-Lah—you are 17 again, as your family sings off-key to you, and your daughter laughs that her dad is the same age as her.
But even though you lose Super-Hero status and people don’t bow to your wishes anymore, you have a great sense of humor about it…because you’re OLD…and have had years to get over yourself!
It’s fun to be 17 again and revel in all your terribly wrapped gifts. It’s fun wondering whether you’re 42 or 43 this year, and being too lazy to do the math to figure it out? It’s fun to revel in memory loss and weather-watching. It’s HEAPS better than being in junior high waiting for the magical 13th birthday to solve all your problems.
I like being OLD! I miss the fancy birthday cakes and magical birthdays of my youth a little, but I’ve got all these memories now to keep me laughing…and I’ll take OLD with a ton of memories any day to those insecure, memory lacking days of my youth.
If you’re YOUNG, enjoy your birthdays now…because someday, you’ll get OLD too. But that’s when life gets fun…because you are okay with being a bit nerdy, and think it’s fun to plan your epitaph for your gravestone. You might even write it in your cake if you’re talented!
Here Lies Char…who died eating coconut cake. Now she’s awaiting her chocolate milkshake. RIP
Now I’m hungry.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Cindy! This post is dedicated to YOU! You’re my superhero today.