I celebrated a birthday this week! And on this birthday, I learned a new lesson. I think it is natural – or at least healthy – to always be learning. There are so many things we can learn each day. As a teacher, I enjoy modeling for my students that learning never stops, just because you grow up. I enjoy learning something new every day. I learned many things this week, starting with a little history of what was happening in the year 1976, the year I was born:
- a dozen eggs cost 69 cents
- stamps cost 13 cents
- Stretch Armstrong was created
- the Steelers won the Super Bowl
- Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were tv favorites
- there were no red M&M’s
I don’t mind getting older, but I don’t expect balloons or a party. You don’t even need to call me or tell me happy birthday. It’s just another day – or so I thought, until this week. This week, I learned something new.
You see, there are six kids in my family – four boys, two girls. Growing up, we simply celebrated birthdays at home, with just the immediate family. It made sense. The six of us plus mama and daddy, eight people singing was enough of a party! Usually, we would have dinner together as a family, and then blow out the candles. Acknowledgement of the birthday. Simple. With your parents and brothers and sisters. It’s just the way birthdays were done.
My birthday is two weeks after New Year, which is one week after Christmas, which is about four weeks after Thanksgiving! That’s nearly eight weeks of classroom parties with students, parents, and teachers, and nearly eight weeks of family parties with aunts, uncles, and cousins! Eight weeks of celebrations. Eight weeks of holiday foods that you won’t see again until next year! By the time my birthday comes along, I am feeling quite full – and a bit rounder.
But this year, this birthday, this one was different. It started out like all the others with my mother asking me what kind of cake I want. I requested a sausage quiche instead of cake. I told my coworkers no party, no cupcakes, no special lunch. It’s just another day.
On the morning of my birthday, I arrived at work to find a doorway draped with streamers. Inside my classroom more streamers, birthday banner, birthday hat, balloons, and a card full of glitter! I think this was the first time I ever received balloons for my birthday. I actually cried – twice! I was surprised at the joy and love I felt from such a simple gift. At lunch, I was greeted with cupcakes and a display board filled with facts: a history of what was happening in the year 1976, the year I was born. My students sang to me, friends reached out with happy birthday messages. My siblings flooded Facebook with pictures and birthday wishes. At home, the requested quiche was waiting for me, along with a surprise mac-n-cheese and homemade light rolls!
Along with learning the cost of stamps and a dozen eggs, I learned that indeed, my birthday is just another day, but it’s not about me. It’s about all the people I love. It’s another day filled with opportunities to tell someone you appreciate them, reach out to friends and family, and share a little joy.