The first thing I always did on my birthday is to call my mother on the phone to thank her for having given birth to me. She is not here anymore and I cannot do that anymore.
Every year and througout each year I make a list of my wishes on my mobile phone. A friend of mine loudly expressed her amazement at my other friend’s question: “What do you want for your birthday?” One often asks that of children, but rarely of adults. It is a shame!
For this year’s birthday some of the things actually materialized: a little yellow umbrella, a frying pan and a spatula for making pancakes, a book entitled “Women, food and God”, and some decorative wall stickers with motives of budgies. All lists of wishes in themselves contain the dreams of life’s values. Therefore, the yellow umbrella symbolizes sunshine in the rain and invites the appearance of a rainbow. Everything connected to the pancakes fills the nose with home smells and ears with the sounds of my children around me in the kitchen. One hectic year my birthday came without my list of wishes. Answering “Nothing” to the question “What do you want for your birthday?” I felt dead.
I gratefully accept presents which symbolize me in the eyes of the giver. Being with somebody else allows one to discover their wishes and affinities. It also lets one notice what someone admires and allows one to express that knowledge with the most suitable birthday gift, which may not actually be on the wish list. That’s what happened this year when my elder daughter organized with her father, her brother and baby sister to buy together a sculpture of a man and a woman. Although in two parts, the figures stand so close together and fit into each other’s curves they seem to snuggle together and yet are able to be separated.
My daughter had noticed that I regularly stood in front of the shop window of a local gallery. Usually I looked at the ceramic angels and never commented. My daughter however noticed “Romeo and Juliet”, the “snuggled” ceramic, which to her symbolize her parents. Even though Juliet in the sculpture has long hair, which confirms what my whole family would like me to have. However, the figures represent my husband and me in an ideal way in the eyes of my daughter. It is a wonderful birthday present: ceramic and symbolic!
In my family we celebrate five birthdays. The birthdays are spread the throughout the whole year and each one of us has enough time to think about how to celebrate, whom to invite, which presents to wish and which cakes to bake. The children succeed in surprising me with their different wishes, different from my expectations. When I think my son would like to celebrate his birthday just with some friends, he organizes a large party with fifty guests in his own honor. My daughter had three friends out of ten invited to her birthday party and she was delighted, She said: “It was great! The people came who wanted to come.” My baby daughter intents to put signposts in the street from her kindergarten to home so that all the children find our home.
Each child’s birthday is a festival for its parents. Remembering the togetherness and the total commitment to the moment of birth of each child, the euphoric joy which we both experienced during the broken nights in the period when the babies got used to being alive. My husband and me also feel tremendous love for each other seeing ourselves in our children – and it is particularly intensive when we celebrate their birthdays. On our friends children’s birthdays we wish the parents more passionately a happy birthday than to the birthday child.
The best part of a birthday party for me is when the passions flow, e.g. joy of life, the fun of gathering together, the ease of accepting best wishes, kisses, long embraces, and gratitude for ones existence and togetherness. And that brings me back to my first family: my mother who lives in me and through me, my father who I love more and more day by day, and my sister with whom I share the same source of life. Through life with them birthdays have become precious and important. Growing older and thinking how much my acquired habits support me, I always choose a lively birthday so as to be the center of attention in the lives of other people.
What does a birthday mean to you? How do you give a present? How do you accept one? Do you remember to be thankful for life?
My birthday is everyday, even though I celebrate it on March 2nd, and one week before and after. I celebrate it loudly and publicly, and tell everyone: “Tomorrow is my birthday!” When someone ask why is my house full of flowers, I proudly say:” Last week was my birthday.”
For me a birthday is a celebration of life.