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The Looming Birthday

Reflecting on birthdays past and looking forward to the future.

On March 28, I will turn the big 3-7.

It seems like I just turned 36, blinked my eyes and my big day is practically upon me again. When I was a child, birthday celebrations were so much fun! I remember parties at the roller skating rink near my house in San Antonio. In fact, I loved skating so much I had multiple birthdays there.

I remember both my brother and I having parties at McDonalds, of all places. I can vividly recall us all donning special paper McDonalds hats and riding the rides at our local McDonalds. Of course, we all ate Happy Meals and ate cake, too. Plus, the “big man,” Ronald McDonald himself, even made an appearance.

I recall one year where we went to a pizza and game place similar to Chuck E. Cheese, called Showbiz Pizza. I thought that was tons of fun and can still remember those dancing puppets that sang and moved to the music.

Even as an adult, I have had some pretty memorable celebrations to mark particularly “big” days. My mom and I went to Reno together for my 21st birthday. We had fun together ringing in this monumental age, just us girls.

On my 30th birthday, I was lucky enough to score a coveted reservation at the world-renowned French Laundry Restaurant in Yountville. My husband, mom and I rang in the big 3-0 with an amazing nine course dinner, followed by a special dessert chefs at this landmark restaurant made just for me, to celebrate the big 3-0 in decadence! Now that was an amazing birthday, and I probably couldn’t afford now that we have children, as dinner for one without wine now costs a whopping $270 per person (We stopped going to the French Laundry, after multiple visits there, when the cost for two of us cost more than a month of preschool for our twins)!

Now that I have surpassed adulthood and 40 looms on the horizon, I prefer a much more low-key day. In fact, this year, I am lucky enough to be heading to Reno for a few days of escape with my husband. 

One thing I have learned as I’ve gotten older, and as my husband battled a brain tumor and I fought my own battle with thyroid cancer is this: There is no greater gift than time — time together as a couple, quality moments spent with our children and even a quiet moment by myself to savor a good book or a morning walk. 

This year, I am fortunate that my in-laws have graciously agreed to watch our three sons so that Dan and I can relax, rejuvenate and be adults for a change. We can get up when we want to and stay up late — talk about a luxury when you have young children. We can eat lunch or dinner when we choose, and not be dependent on the hunger pangs of our children.

True, Reno is no French Laundry. My birthday doesn’t have the unfolding magic of long-ago celebrations with friends at the roller rink or other fun party places.  Still, it is a time to reflect on birthdays past, and also a time to look ahead to all the amazing birthdays I have ahead — to share with my family, friends, and those dear to my heart!

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