Happy Birthday to Me: Embracing Birthdays in My Thirties (and beyond)


“Ugh, I hate my birthday. Why would I want to celebrate turning another year older?”

It seems this refrain becomes more and more common as we age. The older I get, the fewer of my friends seem to embrace their chance to celebrate another trip around the sun. Me, though? I’ve always LOVED celebrating my birthday, and that hasn’t changed at all as I’ve aged (probably to my husband’s dismay).

I can vividly recall the anticipation that surrounded my birthday as a grade school student. Growing up, there was a girl in my class who had a birthday the day before mine, and another girl who had a birthday the day after. I was always anxiously jealous the day before, watching the first girl celebrate her special day and counting down the seconds until it was my turn. Once my day was over, I spent the following day wishing for a repeat and feeling a twinge of jealousy for the girl who was still celebrating. Yes, my love for birthdays runs deep and strong.

My birthday falls on Nov. 4, which presented lots of opportunities for fun Halloween-themed parties as a kid. There was a year that I had a sleepover on Beggar’s Night to celebrate my birthday. Other years, as a teen, we’d plan birthday parties centered around a trip to a haunted house or a haunted hayride. I always loved those themed parties. I think the early celebrations (in order to take advantage of the Halloween-themed activities) were the early beginnings of what I love most about my birthday now – the fact that I don’t just celebrate my birthday, but I embrace my entire birthday week!

birthdayMy parents were awesome at making our birthdays a big deal as a kid. We had parties, we always had a wonderful gift, and best of all, we always were left feeling SO loved and important. Another factor that probably contributed to the advent of “Birthday Week” is that I share a birthday with my paternal grandmother. More years than not, we have a celebration with our extended family in Columbus sometime in the week surrounding my birthday. Yet another wonderful excuse to extend the celebrations beyond a single day.

As an adult, I try my best to continue this weeklong tradition. I love to celebrate one-on-one with my hubby, I love to have a night out with my girlfriends, and I love to have a celebration with my family, including my husband, daughters, parents, and sister. Often, we still try to make a trip to celebrate with my grandma (How lucky am I to still have that opportunity?!). All of these celebrations warrant their own individual day, which easily lends itself to a birthday week – or at least a nice chunk of one. In addition to these fun plans, I love any good excuse to splurge on a fancy coffee, a new outfit or a nice meal at lunchtime – after all, it is my birthday week, right?

All of these trivial things aside (and trust me, I realize that this is all entirely superficial), I love my birthday for what it represents. It represents another year of life that I had the opportunity to live. It represents another year of fun, of challenges, and of time with the ones I love. It represents another year of adventures and of stress. All of these things are what make life worth living – the good, the bad, and the ugly. My birthday represents a fresh start after a tough year, and it represents an opportunity to reflect back with a proud smile after a particularly great year. It’s a chance to spend some time reflecting on where I am in my life and if I like the direction where I’m heading. It’s an opportunity to count my blessings, above all else.

And the cake doesn’t hurt, either.