Happy Birthday, TBG!
I've celebrated with you since 1971. That's more than forty years of hearing you complain that everyone is always driving home on your birthday. Forty years of watching everyone else start the new year off by looking forward to new challenges, as we look back on the year just past. Birthdays are times for reflection for us. It's just so odd to do it when the rest of the world is focused forward.
Thinking of a gift that wasn't given for Chanukah or Christmas is a perennial challenge. I used to buy you cigars, but they don't seem to amuse you any more. The Sees Candies that greetsyou when you open your eyes and glance at your night stand this morning will be tasty, but they'll also be an echo of the two boxes Big Cuter gifted you last week.
It's always been that way. You'd give me a list and wonder why some of it wasn't found under the tree or near the spinning dreidles, only to stop and remember that you had another occasion for presents coming up at the crest of the new year.
The new year is a double whammy for you. Not only do you start off fresh with the rest of the Julian-calendar-following world, you start a new year of your own personal life as well. The two are inextricably intertwined. You've been cheated out of a fresh start somewhere in the middle of your own anniversary. Yours are piled right up on top of one another.
Your mom had the same issue; her birthday was December 26th. In all the years I spent the holidays in your home in Cleveland, I never remember a birthday cake or a celebratory dinner in honor of your maternal unit. There were cards and there were hugs and there was always so much love, but the fact that it was Nannie's birthday was an after-thought. In another of the conversations I wish I had had but never did, I don't know whether she was peeved or felt slighted or just didn't give a damn about the short shrift which her natal anniversary received.
I know that you don't think much of birthdays, yourself. I know that they feel selfish to you. I know that you like the family holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day - more than the one day a year set aside to make sure that an individual feels special. That's always been an issue between us.
I love my birthday almost more than any day of the year. I love taking time to think about myself, my past, my future, my wishes and my dreams. I rarely take the time to do that during the rest of the year. You, on the other hand, review your day every night before you fall asleep. You analyze and contemplate and plan. It must seem superfluous to you, having a day dedicated to yourself.
But it's not superfluous to me. For me, it's a day when everyplace I turn reminds me of you.
I see you as the sunrise casts beams of light on your napping self, having moved from the bed at 5am and requisitioned yourself on the couch, the sound on the tv turned low so that I won't be disturbed. You have cozy nooks in there, amdist the knees and elbows and moustache. If I snuggle in you'll smile, make room, and purr just a little before you fall back asleep.
If I run to the bagel store for a yummy breakfast treat, you'll greet the bag with that smile that is always just a little bit surprised that someone else was thinking of your well-being. We'll eat what you want for lunch and for dinner, watching football on television if that is your pleasure, or sharing a night out with friends at a restaurant of your choosing. I'll carry you in my heart with just a little more oomph... it is, after all, your day.
You've never been one for big parties, although your 30th was a celebration for the ages... up to and including a snow-covered football game in Lincoln Park at 2am. For your 40th, we had our first real furniture and a catered extravaganza, a party where the fortune teller/tarot card reader with candles on her hat bequeathed you a long life filled with love and family and friends. 50 and 60 were barely recognized, our minds on other things and in other places
And now you are one year before Social Security, one year before Medicare, one year before every senior discount is available to you. I don't know how that happened. To me, you're still the guy I kissed goodbye on your parents' doorstep before getting into my car and driving west as you drove yours east, parting on your birthday instead of sharing the love together.
I'm so glad those days are gone. January 2nd may be an unfortunate birth date, but it's yours.... we're stuck with it.... and I'm still trying to make you think it's a very special day.