It’s my birthday week. Actual day: April 2nd. 

What is it about birthdays that makes me feel so positively childlike about them? I take the day itself as a free pass…I go out to pamper and buy things for me. I don’t schedule any appointments. I just celebrate being on this earth and my capacity to enjoy life. Then I go on to tell everyone that I celebrate all month…which is actually true…

But there is a special little girl quality to the day itself, fostered no doubt by my mother, because gifts were her love language.   

For some reason, especially on Christmas, her gifting had to be excessive or it wasn’t enough. Each of us got a pile of presents and one stocking stuffer was reliably perennial: a tiny box of Russel Stover chocolates.

And on my birthday? Well, one year I did something to piss my mother off so it was decided that the family wouldn’t celebrate…but my best friend Margie gave me a tall, giant plant. That plant saved the day. Otherwise, it is a terrible memory.  I think I was turning 13, and my actual Bat Mitzvah day sucked pretty bad too…but that’s another story.

In some cultures the custom is to give gifts to others on one’s birthday, not to receive them. It is a day to express gratitude for being alive, not the entitlement of oneself to experience nothing but fun. 

Yet it is a sense of entitlement that I indulge because through it I do experience gratitude, and an atypical allowance of myself to simply exist for the sake of existence, with nothing to prove, and no mandate to give back. 

I got born, so I get to be. Like a plant.