Birthday Lament

Something struck me this morning as I looked at my calendar. Next month I'll celebrate another birthday.


This isn't one of those Big Zero years. Instead, it's one of those Year-Before-A-Big-Zero years. I think I dread those years even more than the Big Zero, because every time someone asks how old I am and I tell them, they'll say, "Oooooh, you're almost there!" I hate being almost there, unless we're referring to a driving trip to Disney World.

The problem is that my family has always made a big deal out of birthdays. There are rowdy family parties, and gifts, and a cake with candles. (Mine will probably blind anyone foolish enough to look directly into the bright blaze.) They'll sing Happy Birthday while my face becomes an unbecoming purple color (at least I can blame the flush on the heat from the roaring fire on top of the cake), and the people who can't be there will call. Because of these traditions, there is virtually no possible way that this birthday will slip by unnoticed.

On the other hand, at least there will be no surprises on this one. Nine years ago, on the previous Big Zero year, my husband threw a big surprise party. But a Year-Before-A-Big-Zero birthday doesn't justify a surprise party, thank goodness. That will come next year. So I've got a full year to worry about it. ("You're almost there!")

I have a friend who uses her birthday every year to review her life thus far, and to set goals for the upcoming year. (Sort of like normal people do on New Year's, only she's never been accused of being normal. She befriended me, after all!) I like that idea. So for the next month, before the Year-Before-A-Big-Zero birthday, I think I'll take stock of my life so far. What have I done with the first mumble-nine years of my life? What do I hope to do in the upcoming year, before I'm slapped in the face with another Big Zero?

And perhaps while I'm at it, I'll dig out the floorplan for my house and pencil in the escape routes, so if that bondfire on the top of my cake goes badly, at least everybody will know how to get out. (Maybe I'll station people at the exits to shout through the smoke filled house, "You're almost there!")