At a certain time, a birthday at all is something, I suppose; but, not everything. The sign of a good birthday is when you don't feel any older than you did the day before. I spent the morning last Friday watching wrinkles and waiting for a sign.
In November, the month we remember the blessings of what we've got, pulling on a sweater, cozying up on the couch and wallowing in birthday pity is a self-indulgent joy. There will be enough time to reflect and give thanks for good health, for family, for friends. Before month's end I'll acknowledge the abundance of wonders stroked by God's hand, like curbside trash service, electric blankets, sleep number beds and indoor plumbing.
But for me, November is also a time to dig down deep and muster up appreciation for the blessing of my birthday. No doubt, the numerous sincere birthday wishes sent my way made it palatable; even the ones that had my Blackberry buzzing on my nightstand at the unholy hour of 4a.m. on November 5th. Nonetheless, finding out that I know people who are not only awake at 4a.m. but are also cheerful enough at that time to send happy birthday messages made me feel older than the day before, when I was still convinced that I knew people who wouldn't dare raise the shades before 1p.m.
At the breakfast table, my 9-year-old daughter was the first to say, "Happy birthday, Mama."
"Thank you," I smiled.
She grinned with teeth exposed, like she had a secret about to burst through her seams. "Now we know how old you are," she beamed, proud to be the one to let me in on it.
"You do?" I played coy.
"Yes, ma'am. Daddy told us," she announced, locking eyes with him.
"He did?" I exclaimed, pinning him between her sights and mine. He shrugged, genuinely flummoxed about the climax she was building up to.
Even so, the baleful poet's lines, Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot, I know of no reason, Why the Gunpowder Treason, Should ever be forgot, twisted in my head. This advertising of my age to a person more than happy to shout it from the rooftops and tell all of her teachers certainly smacked of treason. Plans and plots for burning my birthday cake in a bonfire of candles had my hackles on end.
Our daughter, keeping her father squarely in her gaze, sat up straighter and answered my question, "Yes ma'am, you're 26." (By God's mercy he was catch'd, With a dark lantern and burning match.)
"No I'm no-- I am?" I stammered, then stopped. I cleared my throat and confidently confirmed, "Yes, honey, I am."
This must be my sign, I decided. Swiveling my shoulders back toward my husband, I playfully scolded, "I told you not to give me anything."
My 26th birthday (which I'm thankful for) will go down (again) in the books as a good one; one on which I wasn't any older than I was the day before.
Remember, remember the fifth of November, Not the age that was forgot, I know of no reason, Why counting the seasons, Should o'er shadow the blessings we've got.
(Lucy Adams is a columnist and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org.)