When I was little a birthday was a big deal. It was so big that I had managed, through some level of adorable child negotiation, to convince part of my family to not only sing “Happy Birthday” to the person whose birthday it actually was, but also to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.
Each year I proudly announced my age and celebrated until 18, then moved to the ‘bigger’ milestones. My 21st with the most hideous purple alcoholic drink on earth but dear friends. On my 30th we were at Disney World after a magnificent New Year’s Eve cruise. And then, for my 40th, I had blood work done as due to repeat stomach issues we were assessing whether I just developed a chronic problem or if there was something more serious to pursue.
Okay, so maybe I’ve managed to achieve three out of four milestones. We can’t win them all.
As a person born within the post-Christmas blues period (somewhat worse, but not by much, to those born on Christmas itself), any idea of celebrating after the age of 30 was generally greeted by those proclaiming bankruptcy or strict adherence to sugar-free, wheat-free, all-meat vegan diet. Up until kiddo I had learned to book people for a birthday activity in November before the dawning that the holidays would fully be upon them hit. After kiddo, things got more complex. Now, the announcement of my birthday also comes with the comparisons and ideas of the kiddo’s upcoming birthday.
His version, I believe, of me singing “Happy Birthday” to him on my birthday. Well played my prodigy, well played.
Because of my last milestone being a wash-out I had managed to induce a huge level of stress trying to make up for it this year. Another issue with post-Christmas is that technically for many it is still Christmas, so either no one is around or places which might be reasonable in price are still at ‘peak’ pricing – if not already booked out entirely.
Through a bit of a miracle my kiddo, the one who asks Alexa to countdown to his birthday (something I would’ve done myself) fairly regularly, thought up what we would do. A mix of things he likes and I like all rolled into one – we went to the Tower of London and ice skated in the moat.
We took the ‘big’ train and the Underground. We ate chocolate cake and walked the battlements. We spent the full 45 minutes on the ice seeing if we could get a bit better than the last time we had been skating. And then, with some grumbles that were taken back on viewing, we went to see the Crown Jewels. (Hot tip: The chocolate coins in the Jewel House shop rival the crown jewels… and definitely beat them on flavour.)
It was a magnificent day to be out, a total turnaround from the year prior and a case study that the ‘milestones’ aren’t always that important as some times you have to roll with the good and the bad of life. To celebrate the fact that you’ve made it around, and not towards, the sun that one more time.
As we rode the ‘big’ train home we reflected on the favourite parts of the day. We agreed that our ice skating had improved and slightly mourned the fact that we didn’t eat as much cake as we should’ve. We laughed, we chatted, we were grateful for the day to have turned out so lovely.
And we planned his birthday party, because he’s my kid.