in , , , , by Erin Lynne, December 13, 2023

I don't remember every birthday I have had. Duh, Erin, none of us do. As a kid, I remember having A LOT of parties that were snowed out. (So much so, that one year in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my mom let me have my birthday party in July to ensure everyone could make it!) I remember Gurnie making my birthday cake every year-angel food with some kind of magic white icing that I have the recipe for, but have never tried to make.

I do remember turning 21 on a Sunday back when Lexington had a zero alcohol sales on Sunday policy. Wanting to buy beer, I went with some friends to Meijer after midnight. I don't recall when exactly Meijer's computers started operating on their Sunday functions, but it apparently was some time between midnight and whatever time it was when a bunch of college kids screwed around in Meijer and made it to the checkout. I tried to plead my case with the cashier but she said since it was all automated, there was nothing she could do.

But the birthday that I vividly remember was my 26th birthday.  Not because Gurnie made me a cake, or because my friends and I skipped around Meijer for two hours in the middle of the night, but I remember my 26th as the birthday that most people forgot. Of course I got a call from my parents. And I know I got a few cards. But a lot of my friends, my siblings, even my grandparents, seemingly forgot it was my birthday.  If I close my eyes, I am right back on the floor of my bedroom, calling my parents (on my landline!) crying that everyone forgot my birthday. I can still feel that ache inside. It was on that day that I realized that all of my siblings had their "own" families by the time they were 26, and for the first time I felt "less than" for being single... I felt like at this age, it's not "supposed" to be about your parents or your friends celebrating your birthday, it's "supposed" to be about your husband. 

And that would stick with me.

Confession: I have hated my birthday for 20 years.

It wasn't about turning older. It was about being alone.

You see, when you're single in your late twenties (and entire thirties, and half of your forties), you inevitably end up spending at least some of your birthdays alone. Even if you have the best friends (I do). Even if you're loved by lots of people (I am). It just happens. People are busy and adults have obligations and often when your birthday falls on a Tuesday, your friends can't just drop everything and go to dinner. You'll go Friday night, or to Sunday brunch, but on your actual birthday, you'll be alone (at least until you wise up and get a dog!)

I remember my 33rd birthday. It was on a Monday and I had said before in passing to my friend Andi that I hated weekday birthdays. So she invited me and a couple of our friends over, and made me a birthday dinner and even a blue and white checkerboard cake! This was not a grand gesture, but still one of the kindest things anyone has done for my birthday.

I vaguely remember my 40th birthday. Not even three weeks from losing my dad, I don't remember much from that time. I remember crying a lot and I remember that I certainly didn't feel like celebrating. But my DTO family decorated my office (I haven't even worked there in almost three years and I still find that confetti every now and then) and my sister took me to Tony's. What I remember most about 40 was that weekend. I thought I was just going with Megan to Shamrock's, and when I got there was surprised to find my closest friends already there. These girls weren't even all friends with each other, but had organized a secret group chat to plan this for me. If I wasn't all cried out, I think I might still be crying from the kindness and support these girls showed me. If you're really, really lucky, sometimes your "framily" shows up for you when you need it most. 

Sneak preview of my bridal party 💙

And 45? 

I will remember 45. 

45 was the year I woke up next to the love of my life, who later delivered me Starbucks before I had even gotten out of bed. (To be fair, he does this on days other than my birthday too!) 

45 was the year that my "bonus kids" showed up for me with gifts, a delicious cake, and heart warming words of gratitude. 

45 was the year that not only did Patrick surprise me with a trip to Savannah and front row tickets to see UK play in the Gator Bowl, but also a simple heartfelt card that I have read at least a dozen times since yesterday. 

Cheers to the best birthday yet-and to all the things that this year will bring! And double cheers to never dreading my birthday again.💙

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