It’s my birthday in a shade over two hours. This feels significant. I will have reached the amazing age of forty-two. So by The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy this now means I almost hold the answer to everything, but sadly not the questions. I tried to pin down the best bit of a birthday because a birthday has many great qualities and pondered the following.
The cards. There have been times in my life that the sheer volume of cards has impressed me. I have felt the mass love and felt thoroughly endorsed. I still like the pretty foldy cardboard a lot, but I have a much greater appreciation for the cards that I receive now; it feels special to be remembered. I know that environmentally they are less good, but they still make me feel smiley.
The cake. In the past, I have had some truly amazing cakes. But the absolute, most standy outy was the cake of my childhood. My Mum made me a Dougal cake. For those unfamiliar with Dougal, he is the central character from the tv program ‘The Magic Roundabout’. Dougal is a dog that has hair all the way to the ground. I don’t believe that his feet were ever visible, he just slid everywhere. I read some years ago that the show’s somewhat trippy nature stemmed from the person who tried to translate it from French to English (it was originally a French show), decided that this was too much effort, and created a whole new story. It makes me wonder how different the French people’s memories of this show are. Because here, it was trippy. But back to the cake. She made the ‘cake of legend’ out of a Swiss roll that she iced with butter cream, using a variety of chocolate and liquorice to make the face. But the thing that really stays with me is that the whole class came to my party and my mum made everyone a take home Dougal, made out of mini Swiss rolls, all individually iced and decorated. My Mum is made of awesome stuff. I have requested this cake a few times through my adult life and sometimes my Mum recreates the masterpiece. This year I have not planned a cake, but I have purchased two Belgian buns for me and my young one to put candles in at breakfast time. Blowing out the candles and making a wish always feels special.
Presents are always good, but again like the cards, it is the kindness of someone remembering. I also have friends who never remember my birthday and I never remember their’s, and that has become the tradition. We do Christmas instead, which is much easier to remember. The shops seem to start thinking about it in September so I have lots visual reminders. (Am now thinking about seeing Caburys Cream Eggs at Christmas. So much wrong).
The people who I see over my birthday make it even more amazing too. I could never discount their impact on my life, esepcially at birthday time. But the truly most awesome thing about my birthday? That it is my birthday! I have lived another glorious year and that feels just so incredibly exciting. I have had many new and curious and soul enlightening things happen to me. So mostly on my birthday, I feel blessed.
Map Point. What is my most favourite celebration?
I have the good fortune to have some truly amazing people in my life, and with my upcoming annual celebration of life, folks are asking for things that I might like. This is hard, as there are many things that I like, but would not want to have (except a Pyrex jug, which apparently is not a suitable to gift to ask someone for). So I started to think about things that I have really appreciated that people have done for me on this remarkable day.
I was once made a birthday card by Kathryn and Tina. This gift felt incredible, as I could see the time, effort, and knowledge of me that had gone into it. And it was also both dark and incredibly funny, which is likely why I still remember it. I still have this somewhere.
On my 17th birthday, my mum invited some of my friends over to dinner as a surprise. I don’t thnk that I can remember feeling that genuinely shocked by something in all my adult life. It just felt so amazing and so utterly unexpected. I have had someone end an eighteen month relationship with me over the telephone, been told that I need surgery, and found out I was pregnant (okay, that one is a definite contender for top place) and lots of other things, but that is what stands out, my Mum organising something so incredibly kind.
But in thinking about actual stuff that requires direct purchase, my brother has given me some things that I have really liked over the years. They have mostly all been Zelda themed and this is good! He also gave me his orange woolly bobble hat that is likely the most awesome thing on the planet (If you have ever seen the TV series ‘Firefly’, the hat will make perfect sense).
I am at a place now though, where I don’t know what I want. I feel so utterly blessed with the life I now get to lead, that thinking bigger than the now, beyond my present, actually feels really hard. So maybe for my jubilant cycle of the sun, what I would really like is a new perspective.
Map Point. What would be the best gift someone could give me?
It occurs to me that there is much to celebrate. Next month is my birthday and that is definitely reason enough. Celebration is and should be an inherent part of our existence. I read once about a tribe that didn’t celebrate birthdays, but instead, when a person felt that they had achieved something, the tribe celebrated then. I like this idea a lot. Bringing people together for reasons of happiness is something that I intend to do more often.
I was thinking about all the good things in my life that I would like to celebrate. My upcoming interview for my master’s degree, the end of one of my jobs and likely countless other events that qualify as happy making. Tangible things are easy to recognise achievement with. But much like the argument that people are more sympathetic towards physical illness than they are towards mental illness, it is easier to recognise things that have a physical presence. But what if we started to celebrate the non-tangible things in our lives? Taking this further to start celebrating our emotional and intellectual achievements too?
What if I went a whole month feeling that every time I wanted to say something that I could? What if I picked out nice clothes for myself every day for a week? Are either of these things worthy of acknowledgement, if only by me? I am deciding that yes they are. Progress is progress, irrespective whether you are ticking off dates on a calendar until your birthday, a new qualification, or finally feeling that someone might want to listen to your words. Having that deep sense of gratitude for what is in my life is an amazing feeling.
Map Point. What do I want to celebrate next?