I think the concept of ‘birthday week’ was ruled out around age 10.  Or, maybe, in our house where birthdays were sacred, age 14 was the end to the weeklong celebration.  When you grow up as part of a large brood, having a special day all your own takes on a certain weight that really cannot be exaggerated.   It starts with having the best seat a the kitchen table (all day!), not helping with a single chore (bonus if your birthday lands on a Saturday ‘chore day’), and getting to pick what the family eats for dinner.  And then there’s the presents of course, the party and if you’re lucky, treats at school.  I actually don’t recall ever bringing treats to school (I can just imagine my mom saying, ‘enough is ENOUGH, Julie!’), but you get the picture.

The week-long portion was the full, anticipatory, gear-up.  The ‘I don’t care if no one in this house likes spaghetti!  My birthday is in four days and we’re gonna have it anyway.’  Or, ‘If I do a crappy job cleaning my room this weekend, no one can do anything about it NEXT weekend when it’s my birthday and I’m exempt from cleaning.’  The power trip is full-on and unabashed.  And, lucky me, with a birthday close to a major national holiday, I got to see 25+ relatives mere days after my birthday when lots of people would ask about it, make comments about it, and generally shower me with the attention that I so craved.

Now on my birthday, I usually work, go to a nice dinner, and use it as leverage with co-workers and clients – as in, ‘I have some bad results to share with you but don’t get mad because it’s my birthday.’  Or, ‘I really should fill out this form for HR/Payroll/etc but I’ll just save it for tomorrow because today’s my birthday.’  I don’t wake up on my birthday with that twinge of excitement and, sadly, I’m also prone to forget it’s my birthday at some point during the day – ‘why do I keep getting all these missed phone calls from my sisters? what could they possibly want all on the same day???’

This year, I unintentionally celebrated my birthday in a weeklong protracted celebration.  It began when friends offered us last minute tickets to the symphony in Royal Albert Hall.  With a shrug and, ‘well, next week IS my birthday’ we took them.

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On the actual day, Drew made me my go-to birthday dinner – spaghetti and meatballs.  Although this time they were extra super duper special, with handmade pasta and meat sourced from our amazing local butcher.And because we had a good friend in town from the States, Friday night I got a second birthday dinner at an amazing local tapas joint.  It was great and fun and reminded me of 1992 – in a good way!
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