In high school, I knew every single classmate's birthday and a fair chunk of other birthdays a few grades above or below me (granted, I only had 27 other classmates). This was during the final era before Facebook, the days before my train of thought jumped to a potential status update whenever something cool was happening around me. Remember those days?
Birthdays in a small high school were awesome. By the time senior year hit, nearly everyone knew your birthday (of course, it was a good way for underclassmen to suck up a bit). Birthdays made one feel uber-popular. My birthday, along with one of my other classmate's always happened to fall on the second week of school on the eve of Labor Day weekend. My classmate's birthday was on the 27, and for three short days he was two years older than me. Joking about it year after year never got old. As the baby of the class, I was always thrilled to finally be the same year as everyone else.
Elementary school birthdays were even cooler. Up until grade seven or eight, most people brought the class treats if it was their birthday. We had cupcakes, frosted cookies, and extra special homemade chocolate suckers late in February, courtesy of of Mrs. Roland. And then of course there were the elementary birthday parties. Guest lists were carefully chosen and highly dramticized.
Cut in front of someone in the line for the slide on the playground? You're off the guest list. Caught gossiping? You might as well cross your own name off.
Despite all of the hullabaloo, party guests remained pretty consistent throughout the years. Except one time I got invited to an extra special birthday party... a (gasp) boy's birthday party in the third grade. This was no ordinary party, I mean I was a regular at Derek (my cousin) and Cody's parties, but this one was different: I was the only girl invited. I was one among eight or nine stinky little third grade boys.
I had a blast, we played Power Rangers and ate cake. The boys got their party favors, then my friend's mom brought me mine: a beautiful rainbow colored necklace from India (where my classmate had just moved from). I felt so special and then I felt bewildered, shortly after the party favors, I was politely sent home while the boys had a slumber party. It took me a few years to figure out why I didn't get to stay over.
Now birthdays are a little different. It's almost 6 p.m. here in Seattle and more than 100 people have sent me birthday wishes on Facebook. It feels like high school all over again. In fact, my phone stopped sending me notifications if someone wrote on my wall.
I can't decide if Facebook has made birthdays better or worse. Nowadays if you forget someone's birthday, you look like a total jerk because it's posted for all to see. On the other hand, Facebook increases birthday wishes by ten-fold or more. People I haven't talked to in far too long have sent me messages today and I'm excited to catch up with them, if nothing else Facebook birthdays are a good way to reengage communication.
Aside from my virtual birthday wishes, I'm grateful for the mellowness that birthday parties have assumed with age. No longer am I concerned about who to invite or uninvite to my parties, my mom doesn't need to bake three dozen cupcakes, and I'm not worried about how many "happy birthdays" I get in the hall. And thankfully, I'm past the rough stage where everyone was turning 21 and birthdays were hazardous things to endure. (Being the baby in class helped me out a bit and prevented me from attending too many crazy shindigs).
Nowadays, my friends and I are coasting through our twenties and birthdays are great excuses for a great dinner and a happy hour of drinks and ice cream.
Cheers to being 23, and here's to hoping it's much less tumultuous but just as interesting as 22 was.
And with that, I leave you with a fantastic song that has a verse about turning 23 (cheesy? yes. But listen anyway, it's a great song).
Favorite line: If you're gonna get made, don't be afraid of what you learned... Almost too fitting for the awkward post-college, career-building stage my friends and I are in.
p.s. Thanks Kristen for sharing this song a few weeks ago :)