Saturday, December 1, 2012

Birthday cards through coercion

My birthday was this week. I turned the big 32. Ok, so that number doesn't exactly deserve a special "big" before it. In fact, there's really nothing special about 32 at all. When you're a kid, every birthday is exciting. And it seemed like FOREVER until the next one came along.

The cruel irony of adulthood is that your birthdays seem to get closer and closer, when really you'd prefer them to be spread further and further apart.  After 21, then 30, the years just blur together. Sometimes, it even takes a while to remember just how old you are when someone asks.

But, don't get me wrong. I love to celebrate my birthdays. I enjoy getting to do things I want and eat where I like. I've always been a bit sensitive about my birthday. As any person with a birthday near a holiday will attest, birthdays can get overlooked in favor of whatever national holiday is going on around the same time. For me, it is Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving moves, my birthday is sometimes on the actual day, and sometimes as much as six days later, as it was this year. The years it falls on Thanksgiving or the day after are the worst.

This year, however, I had a great birthday. Cory took the day off work. I went on a long morning run, then he brought me Starbucks. We went to Einstein's for breakfast, then he took Charlotte to her music class so I could go home and take a nap. In the afternoon, I got a pedicure, then we drove to Lawrence for dinner at McAlister's. We even topped off the night with a cupcake from Smallcakes. Yup, I did indeed eat my way through my birthday. (Thus the need for the long morning run.)

With Charlotte on my actual birthday.

It was really a great day, but the next day sucked. I kind of came down with a case of the post-birthday blues. It wasn't that the day actually was any worse than a normal day, but I was back to the reality of school, changing dirty diapers and dealing with tantrums and whiney children. After a day off celebrating everything I loved, it was a little depressing.

Last year was even worse. My 30th birthday was wonderful. Cory did a fabulous job of surprising me by having friends fly in from all over the country to help me celebrate. And, my celebration went on for more than a week. So, when my 31st rolled around last year, well, it just couldn't compete. It was kind of sad. Nothing too special.

Apparently, during my sadness of turning 31, I mentioned something about not getting birthday cards in the mail anymore. As a child, growing up away from my extended family, I always got birthday cards in the mail from grandparents and aunts and uncles. As an adult, that particular aspect of birthdays seems to go the way of pinatas and streamers. Just doesn't happen anymore.

Well, until this year. For some reason, I received more birthday cards in the mail this year than I have in any year past. Cory got the mail on my actual birthday and kept handing me envelope after envelope. I couldn't believe it. I got cards from friends who lived far away, family who lived far away, friends who lived across the street and friends who lived across town. It was crazy.

I was so touched by the thoughtfulness of everyone, and also a little chagrined. For, as much as I love receiving birthday cards, I can't say that I am wonderful about sending them.

In fact, after my initial thought of "everyone is so sweet," my next thought was, "I am a pretty awful friend." And, while I thought it was odd that I was receiving so many cards, my thoughts didn't delve much deeper than that.

It wasn't until I was out to dinner with some girlfriends last night that I got a clue. Anne asked me if I'd gotten all of my birthday cards. I said, "Yes! I just got yours the other day. It's kind of crazy how many birthday cards I've gotten this year. I've never gotten more birthday cards in the mail than I have this year."

Anne looked at me like I was crazy and said, "You know Cory planned it, right?"

"What do you mean?"

"Cory sent an email to everyone and said that you were sad that you never got birthday cards in the mail anymore, so everyone should send you birthday cards."


Well, then I felt like an idiot. Not only that I didn't pick up on anything like that, but also that it kind of made me sound a bit pathetic.

But, I've decided what Cory did was actually quite sweet. And, I do appreciate everyone who sent cards, even if they were guilt-tripped, cajoled or pressured into doing so.

So, I am proudly displaying all my coerced birthday cards on my mantle. They made me happy on my big 32nd birthday, and they still make me smile thinking about all the conniving and tricking now. I have a good husband to go to all that effort to make me happy, and great friends who would put up with his crazy ideas.

And, yes, I do know this sounds like a giant ad for the postal service, but you've got to admit, there is something fun about getting actual paper mail in your actual metal mailbox.

 So, thanks to everyone, and you never know, you may get a birthday card in the mail from me someday soon. Well, that is, as long as someone sends me an email to remind me to do it.


  1. I love them all on the mantle! Your card has been in my bag for 3 weeks so you'll need to keep those up for a little bit longer. I can get out over a million mail pieces every month for my job, but one birthday card?

    (By the way, I think chris's family has stock in Hallmark. For every holiday we get so many cards. His great grandma will even send 3 different cards for 1 birthday if she can't decide which one she likes more. So when Cory emailed I was like "oh, people don't send cards anymore?" Of course I always forget to send cards.)

    1. Ha! I have an entire folder full of cards that I have bought for people but have never gotten around to sending or even writing on.