Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!

It's funny to me how differently people look at birthdays. When we were growing up, I don't remember a big emphasis on birthdays for any of us. Consequently, the Bickels don't do much for each other come birthday time, though we do think about each other and send the occasional card or pick up the phone.

I do remember when I turned 13, though. My sisters Debbie and Nancy made a big deal of it, setting the table with Mom's Depression glass and inviting some of my friends. (Donna and Diana had long fled the coop by the time I hit my teens or I'm sure they'd have been in on it.) My birthday is in the summer -- it was Friday -- and usually just before the school year started. We lived out in the country, so getting friends together was kind of tricky.

My parents gave me a box of books that my dad had scored at an auction. I still have them; a nearly complete set of books written by Carolyn Wells and copyrighted in 1916. I just found a blog about the series and I might have to see if I can fill in the holes I have.

The books are about a rich young girl named Patty -- an only child -- who cavorted around New York City doing good deeds and enlightening her world. I totally wanted to be her. She was Paris Hilton but without the sex, drugs and with panties. OK, so maybe she wasn't Paris Hilton. Hell. It was 1916. Today, she'd be a pantiless slut hanging out with bad boys.

Generally, our birthdays were small affairs celebrated with cake and family. One of my sisters took this non-event status to an extreme. She used to just look at the return address on birthday cards before throwing them away without ever opening them. She just didn't care about her birthday, and just the knowledge that someone cared enough to send a card was good enough for her. She liked getting them; opening them was a little bit too much effort, though. She's mellowed in recent years. She opens them and actually reads them now. Don't worry, Donna, I won't 'out' you.

While I still don't seek a huge party or a lot of attention, I'm touched beyond description when people give me a call or send a card or email to note my steadily increasing age. I have kept every birthday card I've ever gotten. I make fun of Jeff for his box farm, but he rightfully points to my collection of cards. I don't know why I keep them, but they're great to stumble on when I'm rummaging for stuff. Makes me remember how many great people I have in my life.

Anyway, once I moved away from home, I discovered that some people make a huge deal of birthdays. One of my friends always takes that day off from work. Others celebrate the entire month of their birthday and force everyone around them to celebrate, too. Others take trips.

Jeff's family is great about remembering birthdays. Jennifer and Peter presented me with an early gift last week, one that my sister Debbie was immediately jealous of when she called today: a very subtle Harley tee-shirt. I'm going to have to get some leather now.

I make a big deal out of Alison and Jeff's birthday, but can't seem to generate the energy to push them to do the same for me. It's not that I don't want to be celebrated -- it's just not something I'm used to, so I forget to ask for it.

My actual birthday was very low key but great. My friends at work decorated my desk and brought in a light-up tiara to wear. I put it on and wore it for while, but it kind of dug holes in my skull, so I had to give it up.

Another brought in a yummy birthday cupcake, Jeff took me out to lunch, and my Bunconians blessed me with a series of truly raunchy poems. I'd share them, but this is a family blog...

Alison made me a beautiful butterfly card and worked with her dad to get me some earrings I'd wanted for a while. My mailman is cursing my name after hauling in all the lovely cards, and I might be over my minutes due to my yakking with great friends and family.

Oh! I have a lovely new necklace from my BFF, Karin, too. It came from Global Gifts, a great shop that buys stuff from third world countries and sends some of the profits back to the people who really need it.

Special note to Gary (You are far too generous and I'm still a little teary after reading your card.) His generosity was quickly invested in even more jewelry today at a Premiere Designs Jewelry party hosted by Lynda Ruble.

My investment helped Lynda increase her jewelry collection because it was one of those "the-more-guests-buy-the-more-free-stuff-the-hostess-gets' deals. Some of the proceeds also go to help ministries around the world, so Gary's gift to me actually got spread around as gifts around the world.

The celebrating was extended to Saturday when Jeff took me out for drinks and dinner and to see my all time favorite Bravo TV host, Kathy Griffin. (I'd agreed that he could play poker on my birthday, which apparently has won me great kudos from his poker buddies. I got Kathy Griffin out of the deal, so it's not like I suffered.)

Ali was with the Ogdens who took Dale down for his annual dig of a southern Indiana cave. They spent part of the time crawling around the cave, which isn't open to the public but has been a sort of Indiana State Museum work-in-progress for the past 20 years. They had a blast.

Kathy Griffin rocked. She even had Jeff laughing out loud. He barely tolerates my fascination with her, so it was extra fun to hear him spitting out his drink when she got particularly snarky. She was riffing on Paula Abdul, who apparently once complained that she wasn't being treated as" the gift" that she is. We laughed and laughed, but I've totally taken that over now.

And it's just occurred to me that my birthday was really a global gift itself. Karin bought me a gift that helps third world countries; Gary's gift bought me jewelry that helped Lyn get more baubles and helped poor women around the globe; and Kathy Griffin helps anyone who can get her more PR.

I am a gift to the world! I should totally make a bigger deal of my birthday....Maybe next year I'll celebrate for a week. Imagine all the good I can do. Mark it on your calendars!

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