Celebrating a Number and a Life

Caryn - Albion, Michigan
Entered on October 2, 2008

I believe in birthdays. I believe each person should be celebrated. Everyone deserves to be showered with attention and displays of affection. Setting aside one day a year to completely glorify life is a breath of fresh air in an endlessly fast-paced world.

Growing up my mother made my six siblings and me feel like each of our birthdays’ was a national holiday. We each had a unique celebration, incorporating all of our favorites. Kyle’s birthday warranted green French toast before school; Scott’s, an extravagant cake decorated by mom, ranging from teddy grahams at the beach to tiered icicles. Krista’s birthday was spent relaxing and splashing in the family pool. And mine was celebrated with a family outing to the Rockette’s Christmas Show.

The act of my mother remembering the things that brought joy to our lives was a constant reminder to step back and actually enjoy those things. Seeing my siblings faces light up on their birthdays made me want to do continuously nice things and to constantly remind and thank them for their relentless impact on my life.

This year my mom celebrated 60 years. She asked us not to do anything extravagant for her, and in accordance to her example we decided we had to go over the top. The day started sunny and warm, a perfect early-August day. As our months of strategic birthday planning began to unfold in our backyard, a thundercloud unfolded in the blue sky. When my mom made it to her surprise party, she cried when she saw all of us, along with her 40 closest friends huddled under a castle of a white tent decorated with twinkling lights, vibrant multicolored roses, and brightly burning candles. No thunderstorm could cast a shadow on the love and appreciation inside that tent. My mother had influenced everyone present, and it took a silly celebration of a number for us to show her our admiration. And if that number is what it takes to celebrate life and a life being lived to the fullest, than I believe in that number. I believe in birthdays.

We have all grown up now, but my mother still keeps the tradition of celebrating birthdays alive. With time, our family has grown too there are now twenty birthdays to celebrate. To my mother, this is not a hindrance rather it is eleven more reasons to remind us all of the importance of celebration. As we have gotten older and moved away, we look to birthdays as a time to slow down and rejoice life with the most important people in our lives, our family.

My mother taught me to believe in birthdays and in every cupcake, balloon, surprise, and unexpected guest that comes with these special days. If it takes an anniversary of some number to glorify people and their importance in the world, well, then I’m ready to celebrate that number.