I recently turned the big 3-0 on Friday, and man is it depressing. Honestly, due to the stresses of work and studying for the CPA exam, I didn’t have any time to think much of it. In fact, we didn’t even have anything really planned to celebrate because I’m just not into drawing that much attention my way. For whatever reason, it makes me very uncomfortable.
For weeks/months, my incredible sister, who is very outgoing and social, had been asking me how I want to celebrate my 30th B-day. For hers and her husband’s 30th, each party was a big shindig where all their friends and family came from miles around. And that seemed to be perfect for them. But she seemed to be very put out when I told her that the thought of a lot of people lavishing attention on me was quite disconcerting. So much so that I started to get annoyed anytime she would bring it up, although she was possibly hoping that I might change my mind and say “OK, please invite every person who has ever heard my name.”
We finally compromised to have a joint birthday party with my niece who was born exactly on my birthday and was celebrating her first. And I told my sister that if my niece wanted to invite any of her hot friends, I wouldn’t stand in the way. Sarcasm aside, I really do appreciate her enthusiasm and the enjoyment she gets from being the center of attention for one evening, but for me it’s nails-on-a-chalkboard awful.
So the night of my birthday came, and due to our babysitting group changing from the usual Saturday to Friday, my wife and I found ourselves at home alone without the boys. I was feverishly studying, and she was working on her latest project for the new baby who is due to arrive in just a few weeks, but I guess the silence was deafening and we decided to get out of the house and go to a BBQ at some neighbor friends’ house.
It wasn’t long after we arrived and started talking that they found out it was my birthday. I was surprised at how incredulous they were that I would be spending my birthday, let alone my 30th birthday, with them instead of having some huge party somewhere else. But once the incredulity wore off, we enjoyed a very nice evening as we talked about anything from sports to politics to babies.
After we left to pick up the boys, I decided that because it was such a nice night outside, I’d like to go and get ice cream from Marble Slab with my beautiful wife and incredible boys, despite the fact that a cake was waiting at our home ready to be eaten. But the informal outing turned out to be the most relaxing, wonderful part of my birthday as we just sat and talked and watched as both boys attempted to keep their melting ice cream from dripping onto their clothes. Needless to say, they were pretty messy when we got home, but still very adorable.
The next night we went to the family party which was held at the clubhouse of the neighborhood where my sister and bro-in-law lived. There was a lot of family there, and even though we were celebrating my niece’s birthday as well, I still didn’t like the attention that I was getting, especially since not many of them had seen me since I shaved my head.
All throughout dinner, I couldn’t wait to escape and I was grateful when my boys begged me to take them swimming in the pool. Once I got outside to let my social claustrophobia breathe a little, I felt much better and was ready to go back in and open presents. Fortunately, almost all the attention went to the one-year-old who had finished stuffing her face with cake and was very ready to rip wrapping paper. Very cute.
Anyway, all of this being said, I posed the following question to myself the other day: At what age does your birthday stop being about you and start being about other people? If I had it my way, Friday night would have been totally sufficient and Saturday night could have gladly been left by the wayside. I don’t know if it’s the formality of the whole thing or the fact that I’m becoming more of a curmudgeon in my old age. But whatever it is, less is certainly more as far as I’m concerned.