Birthdays always fell a little short of special when I was a child. My sister was born a year and three days after me and so my mother would invest in one packet of candles, bake two cakes, and make us make do with one party between us. Worse, our birthdays fell in the height of summer and so school friends would be unavailable to eat chipolatas, play pass the parcel, or pin the tail on the donkey.Our birthday table was always padded with cousins.
There is a picture of my sister and me in August 1970 when I turned 10 and she celebrated her 9th birthday. I am pictured smiling beneath an apple green umbrella and she under one of apple red. It wasn’t raining at the moment the picture was taken in our back garden in Belfast, but I am sure we didn’t have long to wait.
My father wasn’t much of a one for gift shopping or gift wrapping and so, while he always managed a card ( neutral colored, sparse in sentiment and never, ever mentioning a specific year, for he was never quite sure how old we were), cash was his only cadeau. “Go and get yourself something nice”.
No cards this year. My brother emailed his felicitations from a villa in Spain. My sister is at her caravan, where she’s probably enjoying having a cake to call her own. Spud called from Belfast–he never holidays until after Internment day. The Rooke sent a welcome CD. My Facebook wall is suitably filled with well wishes, and Gretel texted a message with lots of kisses. Milhous beat the rush by phoning in his congratulations last weekend.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about a birthday. We all have them and they come round reliably once a year. Today though, I took time off work, slept in, and had a pedicure to celebrate. I am eating candied ginger. It doesn’t get much better than this when you are 53.