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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Birthday Girl

It was my birthday last week;  I’ve now reached the ripe old age of 37.  Birthdays have always been a big thing for me.  Maybe it’s because my birthday always fell in the school holidays when I was a child, so it meant that unlike many other children, I had the benefit of being spoilt for the whole day on my actual birthday.  I usually got taken out for the day as a ‘treat’ or we would do something nice at home. Mum was great at creating a fantastic homemade birthday cake and birthday tea; I cherish the memories of my childhood birthdays.  When I left education and entered the world of work, I decided that I couldn’t possibly countenance working on my special day. So,  I continued the tradition of well,...pleasing myself.. and each year on my birthday, would take the day as holiday and treat myself or do something special.  37 years on, I’m still sticking with it.

The appeal of birthdays hasn’t waned for me as I’ve got older, if anything I look forward to them more.  Over the years I have also managed to get my husband to embrace my idea of birthday specialness.  To his credit, he has done this very well, even announcing the introduction around the anniversary of his own birth last year, of some new celebratory days; ‘Birthday Eve, Birthday Boxing Day, and Birthday Bank Holiday, thereby extending the specialness of his own day to a four day event.  (After humouring him for one birthday I decreed we should go back to it just being one special day. I was exhausted by the end of his self - approved extravaganza.)

This year I spent my birthday with my two boys,  and it struck me, that in some ways, things hadn’t really changed all that much over the years.  On my birthday morning, I had a lie in and then the boys came upstairs with cards, and presents and a cup of tea, singing a semi-tuneful ‘Happy Birthday’.  And, as I’ve done for so many years, I opened them in bed, it’s just that in these later years it’s my bed, rather than my parents.

I’ve got a bit of a thing about birthday cards. I love looking at them; buying them. In another life, I might have been a birthday card designer.  I can happily waste a good twenty minutes in Paperchase.  I have a brightly coloured tin box full of birthday cards with no specific recipient in mind, ‘just in case’ I get caught short;  cards I’ve seen on trips out or bought at shops I might not visit again, that are too special to leave behind.   I love receiving cards on my birthday, the slow drip feed of them through the letter box a few days prior.  The arrival of those brightly coloured, joyful envelopes all contribute to the anticipation of the big day.  I try to guess who they’re from, analysing the handwriting on the envelopes.  I appreciate each and every one, and the fact that my friends, have taken the time to go to the shop, choose a card and buy a stamp, and generally get their act together enough to find a post box in time for my birthday.   Each year, I always particularly look forward to opening my card from my friend V, who I first met at playgroup at the age of 2, who always includes a wonderful letter, in elegantly written handwriting with all her news.  I soak up those beautifully ink formed words from the page like a sponge, drinking it all in; not just because I love hearing from her but also because receiving a handwritten letter is such a rarity these days.

As I get older, I want for less in the way of gifts; the fact that people even remember my birthday and send a card or text is enough. When I get asked, prior to the big day; ‘What would you like for your birthday’? I find it hard to think of anything I want.  Occasionally I’ll come up with something inspired, such as the title of a book I’d like to read, but for the most part, I just don’t want anything.  In answer to this year’s request for birthday present ideas, I said to my husband; ‘Well, we need a new dustpan and brush..’  As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I silently wailed to myself;  ‘What has become of me? Is this what being a SAHM has reduced me to? A woman who lusts after kitchen cleaning tools?’. I wept into my feather duster as I envisaged an Addis grey number being presented to me. I wondered if I could make a retraction...‘ ‘Actually darling, perhaps some nice jewellery instead?’  I needn’t have worried.  The gifted stripy ‘Lobby set’ ( with tall broom and pan handle so you can sweep standing up) was most tasteful and thankfully was accompanied by some other ladylike gifts unassociated with household chores.  Clearly I am still considered worthy of gifts outside the confines of domestic drudgery. Phew.

It was a lovely birthday, husband had thoughtfully taken the day off work, and we made our way to Hyde Park, had pizza at the cafe by the Serpentine for lunch and then, walked through the park to visit the newly reopened Kensington Palace, stopping off at The Princess Diana Playground along the way.  We ate birthday cake with thick buttercream for late afternoon tea before I was treated to dinner out that night at my favourite restaurant.  Aside for the nagging doubt about being old before my time on the ‘Lobby set’ front, it was all rather super. 

Do you have any birthday traditions?  Or am I alone in my birthday self - indulgence? Do you like or loathe your birthday? I’d love to hear.

13 comments:

  1. Aww, it sounds like you had a lovely birthday.

    I'm not normally too fussed about mine - but I do make my OH take me out for a posh tea 'just because'

    xxx

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  2. Happy Birthday Dear Mummy Plum .... Haaaapppeeee Birthday too youuuuuuuu !!!!!! Sounds like you had a wonderful day. So you are a fire sign, like me .... which maybe *loose tenuous link* is why I make a ruddy big deal about my birthday aswell. I used to take days off work, and I loved making a big fuss about it; meeting friends, going out for dinner, and generally treating myself. My birthday also marks a warm up for Xmas as its exactly a month before Xmas day. My 40th was excellent - Younger dad organised a big meal with friends old and new, and I got really pampered. Can't say I enjoy getting older though .... 42 this year, gulp. I wont be asking for J Cloths - I want my lavish facial creams instead!

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    1. Yes, lavish facial creams are a must once a woman reaches a certain point in life. Good to hear I'm not the only one bigging up my birthday :0)

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  3. Happy Birthday MP! You young'uns LOL!! Dustpan & brush?? Think YOU next time. DH asked me what I wanted for mine, I said, day at Spa, guess where I'm going at the end of the month! Am very worth, like you x

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    1. A spa... how lovely. I must confess I did get a voucher for the Hammam too, so I can't complain too much out the dustpan and brush.

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  4. Oh my gosh I have been so caught up in 'The Move' it wasn't until I read this that I realised my birthday is less than 2 weeks away :-S I love birthdays more now I am a mother and can understand why they are so special to the parents too. Now as I get older I also appreciate all those that are still around with me to celebreate, the three girls I was close with at school have all lost their mum's now, which has been a stark wake up call to love and appreciate the fact that I still have both of my parents fit and healthy with me. I will be 33 this year and for me, a spa treat would be the best thing as it is an indulgence I could never warrant giving myself on a normal basis (when I say spa I mean with a treatment, like a massage or pedicure). Otherwise my favourite birthday treat, which is becoming the new 'ritual' is that my parents babysit (not necessarily on the day I like a family day, but as my gift) and I get to go shopping with the hubby child free - unheard of!! This year my mum has treated me to a ticket to The Chelsea Flower Show so so looking forward to that!

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    1. Well, if you do book that spa treat for your birthday you'll finally be able to cross it off your 'hopes and aims' list for 2012 - I reckon that's a no brainer!

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  5. Ps! Happy Birthday! But do not want to hear you asked for a Bin next year - fancy or not :-P lol!xx

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  6. I love birthdays too, my own and other people's. I don't want a huge fuss but I do want recognition! I like coffee in bed, cards and presents in bed, and a lunch out somewhere. I have never found myself wanting anything domestic for my birthday! Birthdays are definitely for frivolities. Happy Birthday. xx

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    1. Yes, I agree it's about the recognition. And frivolities definitely most welcome too. x

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  7. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Happy belated birthday! I have almost zero interest in my own birthday - not because I care about ageing but have always been very uncomfortable at being the centre of attention. I don't even like to put cards up. I'm hoping that my attitude doesn't rub off on my son though and he'll let me spoil him each year.

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    1. I'm big on birthday's for Pip too. I hope he's not a shrinking violet and enjoys them there's something lovely about planning birthday's for the little ones. :0)

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