This isn't a post about "oooh... I am so old... pity me!" It's more of a "meh" I have towards my birthdays. What am I celebrating again? I don't hate birthdays, and I love getting stuff, but I hate spending money on myself, which is kind of what bugs me. My wife and son want to know what I want, and it boils down to anything I want is more than I want to pay for myself. We need the money for Christmas, for instance. I don't know. I am confused.
One stupid, stupid, stupid memory I have of my birthday is it always came right after report cards came out. And my grades were always unsatisfactory. I kept getting told, "well, you're lucky we celebrate it at all... look at all of these C's!"
My mother was always a little worried I wasn't very popular as a kid. Truth be told, the way I remember it was that I hung around girls and didn't have more than one or two guy friends. Around 3rd grade, the sexes started to separate as they do, and I wouldn't get to be with girls again until I joined the Fairfax County Community Theater years later. But my mother's attempt to make me more popular was to invite my whole class to my birthday party, which kind of freaked me out a little. I have completely forgiven her for this, she meant well, and that counts for a lot in my dealings with her. I think it was 3rd or 4th grade when she stopped. I think it was because my dad had a huge fight that he didn't want his house overrun with thieves or something, but I didn't press the issue. Later on she told me that when she sent out 30 invitations, and only got 4 RSVPs that she realized it was over.
I have since been told by many kids from that era they liked the birthdays, so I think that counts for something, too. And my mother DID like all the kids.
By my teen years, my mother managed to get drunk or passed out for many major events. Those adult children of alcoholics know what I mean, it seems to be a very common theme. It's almost like alcoholics sabotage these things ahead of time. I recall a few birthdays of ruined cakes, usually because she was so drunk by the time she made them, she'd put the batter in the oven and not turn it on. I'd preheat the oven for a TV dinner, and notice two cake pans of long-evaporated batter with a huge crack down the center like moldy pudding in the back of the fridge. Then there was the one year she did turn it on, and I came to a house full of smoke and two ruined cake pans. Many of these events happened a week before or after the actual date. I have to say, though, with some guilt, I leveraged her guilt of being drunk for my birthday in the form of material goods. That, "You'd get presents if you'd bring your grades up," became, "Don't tell your father, but here's that mega-huge Lego set/D&D Modules/Micronauts you wanted."
Things got so bad in my life after 18, that after I had been tossed from my home and lived with FanTek, I told myself I'd forget I had a birthday. And I succeeded. I completely forgot my 19th birthday. I was at Philcon 51, I think, when it happened. I was working with Bruce to promote Evecon 5, when he turned to me at 1am in the elevator lobby and said, "Hey... yesterday was your birthday, wasn't it?" Oh yeah. It was! Ha HA! I DID it! That day I made peace with my birthday, and broke the fibrous bonds of birthday frustration. My 20th I had to celebrate, my fiancee takayla wouldn't let me ignore it.
And if you want to know true birthday angst? She's got most of you beat. Not born near Christmas. Born ON Christmas Day. Even her own mother forgot.
Happy Birthday, thedreamymoon, I think. Maybe I am early. I know ninjacooter is in a week or so. I forget fadedblackrose's, but it's around this time, too.