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My Birthday And Its Place in History

A few weeks ago, Greg Brown, a fellow networker and HAPPEN extraordinaire, wrote a very interesting blog about his birthday and its place in history. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take his theme and shamelessly use it for my own blog this week.

On Tuesday, November 10th, I celebrated my birthday. I won’t tell you how old I am. It is a closely guarded secret, but to give a general idea, it occurred somewhere in between the assassination of Kennedy and the lunar landing.

In truth, I struggle with the act of celebrating my birthday. To my knowledge it has been at least ten years since there’s been a party. When I compare what others do, I would say that birthdays were never a big deal in my family, probably because we have a disproportionate share of November birthdays. This means that often celebrations have been lumped with other relatives. Moreover, without making this turn into a sob story, over the years that have been situations that coincidentally happened on or near my birthday. As a result, there were some birthday celebrations which simply were delayed or forgotten altogether. This gives you a birthday “callous” of sorts. To give you an example, I shared a birth date with a good friend, who a few years ago very unfortunately died of cancer a few months earlier. I withheld any type of celebration out of respect that year. I am sure there are other people out there in similar circumstances, particularly those with Christmas birthdays, who understand why I view birthdays as I do.

Still, I always appreciate things like the cake that the HRPAP Board had for me at the meeting on Tuesday night, or the hysterical homemade birthday card made for me by my mother who is among the most creative individuals I will ever know. I did receive a number of cards and e-mails and it was nice. The excitement of the evening was opening my birthday present from my husband. I already knew what it was because I picked it out. I asked him to buy me a Snuggie (you know, one of those blankets with sleeves that is advertised on TV), which I saw at a Walgreens Pharmacy in Reedsburg, Wisconsin this summer. I love it!!

As you get older, birthday cards tend to focus on the effects of aging. I really don’t feel any different than I did on Monday, or any other day in the last few years although I know I am getting older. I know this because formerly taboo subjects never to be discussed in mixed company are now regular topics at dinner parties I attend. I have a lot of close friends that I have been friends with for more than twenty years, and I am astounded at the number of times irregularity, heartburn, haemorrhoids, aches, pains and gas now come up as worthy dinner table topics. Just a few years ago, all of us would have been mortified! If you are younger than me, I have news for you—it won’t take long before you start having such conversations with others. I can’t explain it—it just happens.

Greg Brown wrote that he likes to think of his birthday as a time to look back on the previous year and perhaps dare to look ahead to the future and in particular the coming year. So from his perspective, his birthday is a time to take an “inventory” of sorts. In taking my own inventory, I decided to look up my birth date and highlight the events that occurred on it. I picked things of significance to me. Here are some examples.

•1966– British newspapers break the news that the Beatles will indeed refuse all future offers to tour.
•1967—The Moody Blues release their album “Nights in White Satin”.
•1969—Sesame Street debuts on National Educational Television. Oscar the Grouch (for whom my first dog was named) appears orange.
•1975—The 729-foot-long freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks during a storm on Lake Superior. (I remember this storm vividly and seeing the story on the news. I am probably the only person you will meet who has several books written about the Edmund Fitzgerald. Feel free to quiz me!)
•1979—The Mississauga Evacuation occurs, the largest civil evacuation of its time.
•1989—A day after the Berlin Wall falls, the communist regime in Bulgaria also falls.
•REALLY, everything before 1966 or after 1989 was exceedingly boring so I haven’t included it.

I also decided to look up the list of famous people with whom I share the same birth date. The list was rather uninteresting, with the exception of Martin Luther. On my brother-in-law Tim’s Facebook site he wrote, “Today is Martin Luther’s birthday. He would have been 526. Also, today is my sister in law, Bonni’s birthday. She is quite a bit younger.”

I think this says it all.

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