While I would love to tell you about the fantastic birthdays I have had, I can’t. You see, birthdays in my family are pretty low key and always have been. I also seem to have horrific luck when they come around. Some might attribute that to the date that it falls on – the 13th. I don’t. I just think it’s a life habit that won’t break.
When I was five I had the most beautiful Raggedy Anne birthday cake you have ever seen. I can’t remember getting a piece.
When I was seven, I got in a fight with a girl (who I hadn’t even wanted to invite) when she refused to play ‘pass the parcel’ correctly at MY party. When I called her out on being a low down, dirty sneak (not the words I used), my mum propelled me to the kitchen for a lesson on manners.
When I was 12, I had a sleepover when we attended the local production of Oklahoma. And when I mean local, I mean the community production where Laurie was six months pregnant. One of my friends refused to come because she didn’t like musicals.
A few months before my 13th birthday (which fell on Friday the 13th), my parents split up. My mother was kinda depressed and had very little money. My entire birthday involved finding a bag from the local sports store on the dining room table with a rugby jumper in it for me. The receipt was still in the bag. No card. I sucked it up with audible sadness.
I had to play basketball that night so there was no special dinner or whatnot as all three kids in my family had match after match after match. I was grizzling about not having a cake. I look back now and realise it wasn’t about the cake, it was that I didn’t feel special on the day. I had turned thirteen, I was officially a teenager, and it didn’t seem to matter. My mum bought a Twix bar at the kiosk and tossed it to me saying something along the lines of ‘here’s your cake’.
This might make my mother sound callous. She wasn’t . She was tired, broke, depressed and stressed beyond belief. All things that I can see now. But it still hurts looking back on that day. And yet it has been turned on its head. Every birthday the ‘Twix incident’ is brought up in my family. Mostly as evidence of my tendency to be a drama queen as I haven’t let anyone forgot how wronged I was in that year. Yes, I am a drama queen but that didn’t mean that my hurt was nothing. It was my duty to remind them every year!
This year I spent my birthday alone in Japan. My sister sent flowers. My mother and brother sent a card and a gift and spent hours with me on Skype. My dad sent an email where he mostly talked about himself and how old I was which reflected on his age...ugh. Anyway what I am trying to say is that birthdays are so rarely perfect. You have to find the moment that makes it special, that makes you remembered, that makes an impact. This year it was the enormous amount of facebook wall posts I received, the vlogs that came in from across the world and the piece cake that a colleague managed to track down here (not at ALL common here). A lovely friend named Alea managed to secretly make my day rock with those vlogs, it didn’t cost her anything and it made my heart swell and made me feel inordinately special.
My thirteenth birthday was by far the worst birthday I have ever had. It still hurts. But when my mum spoke to me this year on my birthday she apologised “I meant to send a Twix in the mail....” she said with an apologetic look on her face. It’s funny now and it makes me feel special. It’s “my” thing. It’s my family’s “thing” for me. Good can come from bad, even on the worst birthday of all.