Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me

By Mahlia Lindquist

I’ve never understood why my friend Meesh doesn’t like to celebrate her birthday.   Some would speculate it's because by middle age, a birthday means being another year older and another year closer to probable infirmity and certain death. (Are we having fun yet?) I’ve heard talk about the beauty, wisdom, yada, yada that comes with being senior citizen discount eligible, but I don’t buy it, and besides this blog post is not about dealing gracefully with mortality. It’s about birthdays, which are on my mind because today is my birthday.

Meesh has never been one to dwell on getting older and never enjoyed parties in her honor even when we were in our 20’s, so I don’t think it’s the getting older part that makes her birthday party adverse. I think it’s because she is uncomfortable at the attention that goes along with parties, dinners, or presents in her honor. Meesh is modest and  just doesn’t like to be the center of attention.

Unlike Meesh, I relish celebrating my birthday. Which is not to say that I am the model of equanimity about getting older.  Quite the opposite. I am prone to kick, scream and sometimes cry every time the specter of old age rears its ugly head in my own life.  Yet, I wake up happy and with a sense of anticipation every June 24th.

I take pleasure in being loved or acknowledged by the people in my life. Each birthday celebration is a placeholder for a particular life phase.  Last year it was a surprise party at the San Miguel de Allende Shambhala Center, which symbolizes my year in Mexico and delight  in connecting with new friends. This year it will be a dinner with old Miami friends, a reminder of the comfort I felt in coming home this year.  I will alway associate a special friend in Boulder with our annual birthday mega hike and my years there. 

I had a birthday party for myself once and proclaimed no gifts on the invite, but the truth is I love presents. I look forward to opening my Facebook page to birthday wishes, many of which are from ghosts of birthdays past from as far back as high school.

Dave Barry wrote "there comes a time when you should stop expecting people to make a big deal about your birthday. That age is: age 11." The implication, which reflects a common attitude, is that it is infantile to expect the people in your life to celebrate your being born. What does Dave Barry know? He's famous and probably get lots of happy birthday wishes and presents every year. While I agree that having high expectations is never a good idea, it's sad to not be able to expect that someone cares enough about you to celebrate your birthday in some small way.  And anyone who insists it's no big deal when no one remembers their birthday is not being honest with themselves.

So today I am going to mention to the guy that makes my coffee every morning that it's my birthday. And will probably also tell the person at the gym who checks me in. I expect they will wish me Happy Birthday.  I expect I will hear from my family. I expect that while some friends will forget this year, and that's okay, others will remember to call or send a quick birthday message.  And I am grateful to be reminded that I have people in my life who are glad that I am on this planet.

On the most basic level,  being honored in even a small way once a year is an opportunity for me to feel gratitude for my many blessings. There will be plenty of time to mope about being another year older tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Me!


  1. Happy Birthday!!!! I also love birthdays even though old age just sucks!!!! I do qualify for a senior discount this year, at least at Goodwill... finally. You are way too young looking to qualify for any senior stuff, at least for 10 -15 years, although beware AARP. They stalk you well before your time.

  2. Happy Happy Birthday Molly!!! I didn't know you liked birthdays so much - that's a terrific trait to have. I like other people's birthdays but only when they're special years, or my grandchildren, of course. As you know, your Uncle Tom just celebrated his 80th birthday and Aaron celebrated his 46th, the day after, So we celebrated for 4 days - Wednesday to get ready, Thursday, the BIG party, Friday for Aaron and Saturday was Father's Day for my 3 fathers. Too bad we don't live closer - I'm sure we could have figured out how to have a Mahalia Day!!

  3. Happy Birthday Mahlia...Remember 39 is the most amazing year...(and amazingly enough, you get to celebrate it every year from now until you no longer remember your name. Sarah S.