Unexpected gifts

By celebrating ourselves we permit others to do the same…and an announcement!

Laura Nicole Diamond


Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash

When I was little, I started planning my April birthday party as soon as the old year turned into the new. I made a guest list (eight girls), planned the menu (pizza, cake), and arranged the entertainment (Red Light Green Light; Truth or Dare). I could not contain my excitement counting down to my big day.

Now a mid-life birthday with no zero at the end is days away and I haven’t made a plan for what I’d like to do. I do not have the burning fire to celebrate myself. When my family sweetly asks what I would like to do for my birthday, I draw a blank.

I do not think I am alone in this experience, so I have been trying to understand what is behind this reticence to make a big (or even a little) deal about a birthday.

It may stem from not wanting to draw attention to ourselves (though that isn’t usually my problem. I mean, you are reading this right now.)

It may stem from not wanting to ask others to go out of their way for us, though we gladly jump to do for others all the time.

It may be indecisiveness — by choosing how to celebrate you eliminate all other possibilities, and maybe other ideas would be better, more fun for everyone else.

It may be that we are tired and have grown accustomed to staying home and not seeing many people and that there is comfort in that, and discomfort at the prospect of being social. The pandemic grew our introverted sides.

And then my friend interrupted my blah-ness with a reminder of a beautiful truth:

By giving others a chance to celebrate us, we are giving them permission to celebrate themselves and their big moments.

So here is what I want for my birthday:

I want to wake up of sound mind and strong body.

I want to know the people I love are safe and healthy.

I want spontaneity, and freedom to veer where impulse pulls me…

… to stay home and watch movies in my pajamas, eating potato chips and chocolates, listening to the albums we played until we were sick of them when we were 16, napping when our sugar high…