Birthdays have always been a big deal to me. Why wouldn’t you want to celebrate the occasion donned in a corny paper party hat while your closest friends serenade you over a big Funfetti birthday cake? It’s the one day a year that can be all about you, and no one would judge you for trekking around two giant number-shaped balloons so every random person on the street can guess your age.
Don’t you remember the excitement you felt upon walking into your birthday parties as a kid? Arriving as the guest of honor to an overly decorated venue including balloons, streamers, and color-coordinated plates and silverware neatly placed in front of a chair for your guests. It would usually be at a bowling alley, movie theater, roller rink, or any place that had an arcade to impress your friends. You only invited your closest friends, and they each were rewarded with a goodie bag filled with various party favors, usually candy or some sort of treats that were either eaten or lost before they made it to the car. You appreciated the table full of gifts that they brought for you, even though just having them at the party was the ultimate present. Who says these types of celebrations have to end as you get older?
Yes, you may have surpassed the age of ring pops and finger puppet favors, but your birthday is still a day to be celebrated. More often than not, people would rather crawl under the covers and queue up their Netflix favorites than acknowledge the day they were born. This could be for a number of reasons—fear of getting older, not wanting to bother others with your birthday plans, or busy schedules are the most common excuses I’ve heard. But the truth is, we all want to be celebrated, even if it’s just for one day.
I wasn’t always a birthday-obsessed queen. Honestly, when I was a kid, I didn’t care as much about my birthday. To be fair, my birthday does take place in the wintertime, where I either spent the day at school or hiding from a snowstorm. It just wasn’t important to me to make a big deal about a day that truly only my parents and I were excited about. It wasn’t until I was in college that my outlook on birthdays completely changed. I was excited for the day to arrive, as I had the best group of friends to celebrate with and a boyfriend who always made sure I had a day to remember. Usually my family would come to visit, sharing a homemade cake my sister would bake with my roommates, and my boyfriend would prepare a special meal while my friends planned the rest of the night to keep the celebration going well into the next morning. I began to look forward to my birthday because of the people I had in my life to share it with.
Since college, the day became more important to me than ever. It was the guaranteed one day a year that all the girls would reunite. It gave us an excuse to abandon our responsibilities for one night and act like our college days never left us. Regardless of what my relationship status was, I never had to worry about being alone on my birthday because I made sure that would never happen. I became terrified of the thought of blowing out my birthday candles without anyone there to sing me “Happy Birthday”. I feared that not having plans would make me feel lonely because I didn’t have a boyfriend to share my cake with. My birthday went from being a day that I ignored at all costs to a day that my friends would reserve an entire weekend to celebrate.
When these fears began to surface after my first birthday as a single woman, I vowed to never let myself be alone on my birthday. Actually, I downright refused that to happen. I sent my party evites out months in advance to ensure that my friends had plenty of notice to clear their calendars. It became such a tradition that my friends practically treated my birthday as a national holiday, planning any other engagements around it, because they expected our annual reunion.
I just turned 29 years old, and while my birthday parties are becoming less extravagant than they were when I was younger, I plan to continue the tradition as long as possible, no matter my relationship status.