Tomorrow is my birthday; I'll be 35 years old. Last night we had a bunch of friends over for a dinner party that was lots of fun. We're in the midst of a early-season nor'easter, with c-c-cold snowy winds blasting straight down from the Fraser valley, so I was impressed at the number of friends willing to make the drive over icy roads and celebrate with us. I really am blessed with a great group of friends.
It got me thinking back through the years, to other birthday celebrations. Some years I've had big parties, some years small gatherings, some years my birthday's an afterthought to Thanksgiving, and some years it is the the main event. There was the time - when I was 13 or 14 - when what I REALLY, really wanted (and got) for my birthday celebration was to take my two closest friends to a chanting workshop with some visiting Tibetan monks. (It was neat, if not particularly eventful.) Of course I'll never forget the year that I got an engagement ring from Cary for my birthday - that was a shock. I had no idea what he was planning, and he'd gone to the trouble to wrap it up inside a bunch of nesting boxes, with the outside one being a couple feet square. ("Oh, haha, the old box-inside-a-box trick" I said.) Opening that final box and seeing the ring is the only thing that has ever rendered me literally speechless.
Of all the years I've celebrated though, my favorite one was in my mid-twenties, when I was living at the Apple Farm. I can't say for certain what year it was, probably around 2000. It was one of those years where my birthday landed perilously close to Thanksgiving. My family was gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving at my Grandma Joy's house, so Cary and I drove out there around noon or so. We had a great meal, lots of visiting and catching up, and then a few presents for me, all very nice. Cary, however, kept checking the time and making it known that he really wanted to head back to the farm. He had some weak reason, I don't even remember what, about why he wanted to head home, but I knew he just didn't want to stay and visit longer with my family because he was a selfish jerk.
Eventually, I gave in, we said our goodbyes, got in the car and headed back home, and I let him have it. "I hardly ever get to see my family! We see your family all the time! It's not fair! You must not really understand/love/respect me if you can't spend time with my family without wanting to leave early!" etc. Cary took my increasingly hysterical rantings about his problems dealing with my family with characteristic stony silence, which only made me even more convinced that I was hitting right at the heart of the matter.
It's about a half-hour drive between Grandma Joy's house and the Apple Farm, and I kept at him the whole way home. I was merciless. I was going to make him SEE! I was right, and he needed to know it!
And then I walked into the house to find we were late for my surprise birthday party.
I don't remember much about the actual party (I'm pretty sure it thoroughly rocked), but I do remember apologizing to Cary and realizing - not for the first time, but perhaps more deeply than before - that he was a real keeper. Happy Birthday, me.