Another year older...

When weíre little, we canít wait to celebrate our birthdays. We look forward to the occasion with great anticipation and celebrate in style Ė with party hats and plenty of crepe paper streamers. Why then, as we get older, do we have such mixed feelings about our birthdays?

I guess itís natural to want to resist getting older. I know my own mother is all about denial when it comes to age. For most of my life she remained ď39 and holdingĒ when anyone asked how old she was. Until, that is, my niece Jessica made a very convincing case against her. Even at 8, she could do the math with her own age and my sisterís to figure out that ďGramĒ had to be older than she claimed.

My motherís age, in her opinion, should be a closely-guarded secret. How unfortunate for her, then, that I have a tendency to tell everyone I meet how old she is. I am fairly certain, thanks to a comment she made just yesterday, that sheís still upset at me for providing ďcluesĒ to her age in the column I wrote about my parentsí anniversary. Sheíll love this one, Iím sure.

In my opinion, she looks pretty darn good for her age, and Iíd be proud of it if I were her. Hence my need to share it with the world. I hope I age as gracefully as she has.

Just because she doesnít want to talk about her age, doesnít mean she doesnít celebrate her birthday, but I know plenty of people that try to deny that day even exists on their calendar. I donít get it. Who in there right mind would turn down an opportunity to eat cake?

For some people, itís the big milestone birthdays that get them: 30, 35, 40, 50, etc. Twenty five was actually the one that has bothered me the most so far, and Iím not quite sure why. The second half of 29 was no great shakes either, as I anticipated turning 30. But once I actually was 30, it didnít bother me. Of course, a few days after my birthday I got carded by a strapping young bartender. That kind of lessened the blow, I think. I guess weíll see how I feel next year when I hit the big 3-5.

As I count down the hours to this birthday, (my 34th, for the record) Iím proud to say that I still get carded every once in awhile. I donít fight it like I did when I was barely 21. I smile coyly, show my ID, and then tip them REALLY well. I donít particularly care if they are only asking for my identification because of who Iím with, their corporate policy or they need their eyes checked. I just go with the flow and enjoy it.

I find that I actually enjoy my birthday now much more than I did when I was younger. Having a summer birthday in close proximity to a national holiday, not to mention living pretty far out in the boonies, always meant that my youthful parties were not what weíd call well attended. You know that song ďItís my party and Iíll cry if I want to?Ē That was basically my theme song. Iím a Cancer, what can I say?

As I got older I started to look at it differently - my birthday gave all of my friends and family an excuse to start celebrating the fourth a couple of days early. And let me tell, you. Weíve made the most of it.

Do I occasionally do my best Contrary Mary or Negative Nancy impression this time of year? Maybe. But I try to shake it off.

This year, my family and I will be celebrating my birthday in style. Both my sister Trish and my brother Dennis and his family (including my 7 year-old niece Madison) will be in town to help me celebrate and I canít wait.

So yes, I for one, would rather have an excuse for a party than try to pretend Iím not getting any older. So I say, bring on the cake, streamers, noise makers and the whole lot. Letís celebrate!

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