In our house, birthdays last a month. They have to. They’re too much to get done, too much to fill! (See? I already sound hyper and quite juvenile).
In the space of one day, what can you cram without too much pressure for some perfect day, the stuff dreams wish they were made of? You’ve got to be able to play it cool, let the cards dribble in, the sweet notes on social media sit in a virtual pile. You’ve got to have time to paint your nails, go out in heels maybe, and also plop on the couch with ice cream and some form of yoga pants. You just can’t do it in one day. You need the husband date, the kid time, the family time, the me time, the real life, everything that still has to get done time, like for instance, work and have the kids eat.
Nope, we in my family prefer the slow crawl, the luxury of time plus a bit of delayed gratification. If a friend or co-worker hands me a card or a wrapped gift ahead of my birthday, that card or that wrapped gift is sitting on my desk, waiting for the day, and practically the minute I was born. You can’t rush this stuff!
I may sound spoiled, but it’s just that I get the enormity of life and the miracle that each of us was born! It’s not just cake and ice cream; I get really deep. None of us had to happen. The fact that we are each alive is grace, is a miracle, is some magnificent power! Each of us is more than incredible, a distillation of family, and at least a small reflection of God. To be given life and be loved? There’s too much to celebrate.
Anyway, my sister and mom are both known to send multiple birthday cards–there are so many flavors of card out there. They’ll want to express humor in a silly card (please please let me receive one of those talking cards with the funny voices!!!) and something way more sappy and heartfelt in another. My sis is known for sending our Grandpa multiple, multiple cards at which he would crack up. She must have spent $50 on cards and postage each year.
So as I continue to enjoy the day of my birth two, going on three days after the fact, wondering how else to celebrate, I’m realizing one thing: for as much as I love birthdays and want to lift up a person in the air, raise them up on a chair like at a Jewish wedding or Bat Mitzvah, I’m coming to terms with how sucky I am as the giver when stuff has to get in the mail. Really really. By the time my friend’s son graduates kindergarten, or maybe veterinary school, I may find a way to mail his “congratulations you were born” card.
People give me the “Oh, don’t worry! You were pregnant” and “puhhlease, you kind of just had a baby” line, kind of like validating my parking fine, but really? I’m a birthday louse.
Admittedly, it is harder, much harder to get cute cards and get them out when you’re living across the globe from your kin as I am. There is no Target, no Walgreens with aisles of cards for every occasion and relationship, even your dog. Japan does cards much differently.
Add to that the fact that we cannot plunk outgoing mail in our own mailbox. No, instead we must get our bodies and our young children out of the house in the sweat or in the torrential downpours, speak a foreign language, weigh the envelope, pay for postage, and try to do all of this a good two weeks before our loved one’s big day. This is of course after we’ve whipped up a homemade (crappy) card or gone on another train to go find a card at a far away card shop.
This is my life. This is why I send out telepathic sticky notes for Mother’s Day and Grandparent’s Day. This is why Hallmark isn’t making any money off of my smoke signals. I’m a birthday-fraud and I’m sorry, dears.
I do solemnly pledge to get my act together and find the ways to my post office in time. While we continue to inhabit this earth, in this lifetime. I do swear.
And the funny thing is I’m already in the future! I am one day ahead of most of my friends and family! One day may just not be enough. But hey, I’ll make due.
I’ll put my thankfulness to good work and make it happen for others. Time to turn over that rumpled, thirty-seven-year-old (omg) leaf.