I'm not a birthday grump. I used to be, when I was a younger man with frustrated ambitions. That's when I adopted Pink Floyd's "Time" as my unofficial birthday anthem and established the ritual of morosely listening to it on my day. So I was startled a while ago to realize I'd grown up to be pretty happy and content, having accomplished much of what I'd hoped. (I think I also realized that some of my ambitions were stupid.) It took longer than I might've liked but I got there. The idea of contentment took some getting used to and still doesn't quite sit right with me. That's fine. Some ambition and angst are good for the soul.
I still keep my "Time" ritual; in fact, I just played it. The difference: now it makes me smile.
Still, I think there's something silly about making a big deal of someone's birthday after the age of 20 or so. Everybody's got one. I don't need gifts, I'm a grown-up; if there's something I really want, I can go buy it myself.
Maybe I am still a bit of a birthday grump. It's hard to separate from my natural ground state of general grumpiness.
My daughters surprised me with an early-birthday visit home last weekend. In addition to the gift of their presence (all I needed of course), they gave me a home-sewn reversible cooking apron with a black-and-white starship Enterprise print on one side and a colorful Marvel comics print on the other. Wonderful!
They also got me one of these:
I could name at least four of my readers who need no further explanation. For the rest, here's a hint:
My kids get me. Who wouldn't be content with that?
Tonight Karen and I will have a nice dinner and slice into half a birthday cake (we ate the other half with the girls on Sunday), and I'll open a few gifts from her and my extended family. I do appreciate the gestures. Today I turn fifty-three. It beats the only alternative.