Birthdays change the older you get. Once upon a time, it was all about balloons, stacks of presents, and creepy animatronic bears that play the ukelele and sing disco songs. Then, as you hit the teenage years, it became all about how much money you were going to be given so that you could hopefully (FINALLY!) buy that coveted Ricky Martin CD. And finally, as the calendar sent you rocketing toward that all important 21st birthday, all plans involved where you were drinking, what you were drinking, and who you were drinking with.
As the twenties come to a close, and you find yourself looking down the barrel of “thirty-something,” birthdays become something all together different. There may be a fancy dinner out with a spouse, or some cupcakes from your best friend. But gone are the days of “week long birthday celebrations” and “themed birthday parties” and “night of a thousand shots.”
I find with each passing birthday that I become more introspective; flipping through my memory files of the last year and taking stock of all I have accomplished, making note of the failures and heartaches, wondering how things will change in the next 365 days of my life.
And since my birthday has become such a different event with age, I figured it was high time to create a “Do/Don’t” list for adult birthdays. After all, I’m not the only one on this thirty-something rocket ship heading straight for middle age.
Abby’s Grown-Up Birthday Do’s and Don’ts:
DO: Bring me cake. No restrictions here—all sweets are fair game. Bonus if there’s chocolate!!
DON’T: Ask me how old I am turning. I think that ship sails after your 21st birthday. Besides, math isn’t my strong suit. I’m pretty sure I told no less than 4 people that I was turning 34 today. Turns out, after I pulled out my calculator, that I moved a decimal point or something incorrectly, and I’m ACTUALLY 33. What? Math is hard.
DO: Feel free to wish me a happy birthday. Facebook messages, Tweets, emails, phone calls, birthday cards, sky-written messages of your love for me—-all 100% wonderful. I love hearing from you, especially when you’re telling me I’m awesome.
DON’T: Spend a fortune on a gift for me. Truth be told, there’s not a whole lot in this world that I need or want. I’d rather you bring me the aforementioned chocolate goodie and spend thirty minutes with me than for you to buy me a diamond studded tiara. Unless, of course, you feel so inclined. Then bring on the bling, baby. I can rock a crown like nobody’s bidness.
DO: Feel free to change the subject. Sure, you can wish me happy birthday, ask me about my plans, even sing to me in Spanish if you want to. But after that, we can talk about anything else in the world and I’d be ok with it. There’s something about no longer being a fresh-faced pig-tailed 8 year old who’s wishing beyond hope for a flying unicorn with pink wings for her birthday that makes them not so sparkly any more. And that’s ok. I’d rather talk about that thing that happened the other day than my birthday anyway.
DON’T: Let me mope about turning a year older. It’s going to happen. Inevitably, about a week before my birthday, you will find me in a melancholy, mopey, morose place. Remind me that 33 isn’t that old, I still have plenty of time to accomplish my goals and chase my dreams. Tell me that I’m crazy–there are no gray hairs to be found atop my head. Shake your head and laugh at me when I worry out loud that I’m getting laugh lines. And above all else, give me permission to keep wearing my favorite nerdy tees, despite the fact that I probably should’ve stopped wearing them at 26.
And finally, DO: Bring me cake. I know….I already mentioned that before. But seriously. I like cake.