I’ve made it no secret that I love birthdays. Almost as much as I love Skittle baths.
Let’s be honest. A birthday is like a day of permanent residency in Care Bear Land, with the obligatory faucets that Mountain Dew flows out of and lots and lots of farting gumdrops. The birthday “high” in my world lasts at least a week and we joke that it should last a month.
It’s a big deal. Rambo has always, always made my birthday a big deal. I do the same for him and our goal is to make it the same for our girls. It’s ONE day out of 365 that is yours. To celebrate just you.
Birthdays always make me think. Deeply. And a lot. Probably too much (it’s a flaw of mine).
Birthdays – without even trying to – show you who truly loves you.
Who truly remembers your day and who truly believes it’s important to tell you that.
There are people who are a part of my daily life - like my mother and my mother-in-law – who have never once missed my day. There are other people who l literally don’t see or speak to all year but on my birthday – they send a text or email or card. Every year. One day a year – they never forget…even without a Facebook reminder.
You can say it’s not important. But it is.
Think about it. Do you know a person who has been crushed because someone forgot their day? I do. Many, many people who say that it doesn’t matter but if you ask them – what they remember out of all the birthdays in their life….is often not who remembered them….but who forgot them.
As a kid I had Godparents who never, ever missed my birthday. I had a brother whose Godparents never remembered…and it hurt him – deeply. As a kid it matters more. I hoped and prayed I’d never have to deal with that with my own kids…but I do. Some family members will never miss my girl’s birthdays…others will never remember.
As an adult, it’s never been about the gifts…just the remembering. My two brothers both made a point to contact me and that’s more than enough. My Dad sent me an email. I don’t need anything else.
My sister is different in that for her she needs to give gifts. I lost my Bible in the flood that took my parent’s home a few years ago. I didn’t actually physically lose it. The truth is that I have it, wrapped in plastic bag – covered in mud and dirt. It’s not use-able. So my sister? Bought me a beautiful pink leather Bible with a daily devotion in it and it’s made specifically for busy moms. She bought me beautiful page markers and a special pen for writing in it. Now no – I’m not an avid Bible reader – but having one in my house…matters. My sister knew what my old one meant to me. The new one means just as much.
An aunt called. Someone put my name on the local radio station. People sent cards. Others left loving messages on my FB wall. Every single method was precious to me.
Rambo brought my birthday gift into the house a few days early. He and the girls couldn’t wait until the actual day to give it to me. They covered it with a blanket and were giggling so hard they almost peed their pants.
The backstory is that there is a guy whose house I drive by every day on the way to the sitter’s house. This guy carved a morel mushroom out of a tree and made it into his mailbox. It is unique and gorgeous and other people agree since they’ve tried to steal it multiple times. If Rambo is in the car with me – every single time – I have said, “God, I want that mushroom.”
Beyond it’s unique-ness and beauty – I have memories that run deep with mushrooms. Around here they sell for sometimes more than $30 a pound and the season lasts only a few weeks and you have to go out into the deep woods and hunt them for hours and they are hard to find.
My Dad was the kind of guy who would go out for the whole day and come home with bags full of them. He could find them sometimes weeks before the average person could. He had a knack for seeing them. He’d eat a few and sell the rest. You either love to eat them or hate them.
Turns out I loved them. And I loved going out in the woods with him more. My brothers weren’t interested and didn’t really care to eat them. Neither did my mom. It was a tiny bond I had with him.
Every chance I got for those few weeks every year, I’d go out in the woods with him. I’d seriously step right on a damn mushroom and my Dad would have to say, “Um – you just stepped on one.” I sucked at finding them so when I did my heart would soar and I knew he was proud that his kid could hunt shrooms.
We’d come home and eat them. Together.
Now my role in the shrooming is that I sell the bags for him at work every year. It’s still a connection. It’s still something we can actually talk about. It’s still something we both love.
Rambo hunts them for me now so I have some to eat. He knows I’m obsessed with them. Some day – when I can wrap my head around it – I’ll get a mushroom tattoo. I tried once and couldn’t go through with it. Too many demons I haven’t made peace with yet in other aspects of my relationship with my Dad.
I have tons of ceramic, wooden, glass and plastic mushrooms in my landscaping. Ones that look exactly like morels and others that are bright and full of color. They are everywhere. Like I said – obsessed.
Unbeknownst to me, back in June, Rambo went to that guy’s house in the country who has the morel mailbox. He asked the guy if he’d make me a morel if Rambo cut down the tree for it. This guy doesn’t sell the morels. He just makes them for fun and gives them to his family and friends…but he said yes. He told Rambo what kind of tree he’d need and Rambo cut it down and took it to him.
The morel is over 3 feet tall. And it’s gorgeous.
Rambo led me into the kitchen with my eyes closed . I pulled the blanket off and just stood there while my little girls jumped up and down like jelly beans.
I couldn’t speak for a few seconds. Then I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop asking, “How did you get this?” (Yes – I’m completely aware it makes me insane that I cried over a damn wooden mushroom. Sue me.)
I later spoke to the man who did the work and told him it’s not just a mushroom to me and I could hear the pride in his voice that he could give such a gift to a random person he’d never met. I tried to tell him what it meant to me but it was hard to put into words. (Clearly I love this thing immensely in that I actually spoke to a stranger on the phone. Hello HIVES!)
He said he makes tiny hand-carved ones that are only an inch tall and I begged him to consider selling me one so I could give it to my Dad.
I took multiple pictures of the shroom and put them on FB and in just one picture – there is a an ORB. I don’t know whose spirit it is…but I’m not even surprised that it appeared.
It’s a piece of wood that my husband cut out of the woods and another man carved into a shape. It is also one of the most important, most prized items that I own…though most will never know why.
What matters is that I know. And Rambo knows. And a guy who I’ve never met knows. My mom knows and so does my Dad. I think my siblings know. (and now you all know!)
Birthdays rock. Most of mine have never really been just birthdays. They’ve been way more.
Made that way by the people in my life who have never forgotten.
Sometimes it’s a word, an email, a card, a text, a Bible or a mushroom with shitloads of meaning behind it.
What really matters is the not forgetting.
I have no problem admitting that it’s a big deal to me. That might seem childish or selfish or just dumb when there are so many who say, “meh…my birthday is just another day in the year”….
I think that those people have never been to Care Bear Land.
If they had…they’d never think of it as “just another day”.
I say celebrate your “you day”. The Universe and God made it yours….
...and you are worth the celebration.
In fact, I think that you’re worth the celebration every single day.
It’s just that on your BIRTHday…you have permission to DOUBLE the celebration!
I say eat it up. The celebration AND the cake, of course.