“They say it’s your birthday. We’re gonna have a good time.”—The Beatles
It’s time for the annual wearing of the tiara. As in, it’s my 57th birthday today and I have several tiaras to choose from. My son Adam bought me an antique one with seed pearls at a dandy little shop in Provincetown several years ago, though it was well past my birthday. I have a 40th birthday version and the one from my dental company job photo shoot where I posed as the tooth fairy (and oh, the dress and wings that came with THAT tiara!) The best one however, is my 50th birthday Audrey Hepburn replica from the movie Roman Holiday. It’s covered in Swarovski crystals and sparkles with intense beams when the light hits it.
I am shameless when it comes to my birthday—telling random strangers wherever I happen to be that it’s my birthday. Because I LOVE THIS DAY! It’s a celebration of living joyfully, appreciation for my parents who made me and fun for my family who have come to accept my narcissism for my special day as a loving quirk.
My family thinks my habit of counting down the days to my birthday is endearing. I write the number of shopping days on my husband’s Ansel Adams work calendar. About 20 days before, I start singing, “It’s almost my birthday!” to the Beatles Birthday tune. Mark loves to tease me when I say, “My birthday is in X days.” He replies sardonically, “It’s your birthday soon?” It’s our fun little game. I would be disappointed if he didn’t play along.
Mark loves to surprise me so my birthday is a natural time to indulge in this. In my 20’s, he arranged a work posse party at Chuck E. Cheese’s so we could play games and swim in the ball pool. On my 40th Mark, my siblings, nieces, nephews and our kids staged a remake of the Wizard of Oz starring me as Dorothy seeking out the wizard to reverse my trip “over the hill.” And of course, the 50th blowout was the best and biggest yet. In between the BIG ONES, there were treasure hunts, dinners lovingly made at home and fancy ones at swanky restaurants, and a trip to the Smithsonian to see the real ruby slippers. Homemade gifts from our sweet sons who reveled in the joy we created. One year, my darling even made me a banana cream pie because my mom always made me that dessert and she had passed on. I love M for trying as baking is not his forte. We still laugh over the pencil eraser texture of the filling which was an odd gray color from the skim milk.
My beloved outdid himself for my BIG FIVE OH celebration with a magnificent party chockfull of family and friends at our favorite restaurant. Surprising me is pretty difficult he says because of my ability to put random facts together to nail any potential goings on no matter how “oh so crafty” he thinks he’s being. See it’s my damn intuition which, in this case is not a blessing, so I deliberately turned it off not wanting to ruin a potential magnificent surprise. My longtime pal Charmaine was chosen as the one to shepherd me to the party with a ruse of girls’ night out. I, completely unaware, and shopping for an upcoming business trip, kept all the guests waiting for an hour and a half while she tried everything to get me to move along, including telling me she needed to eat because of her chemo-tummy. Me, in my “hunt-for-shoes-to-go-with-my-outfit mode” suggested she eat a snack and then I’ll be right along to pick her up… Only the best of friends can get away with that kind of nonsense.
Here’s the real reason I love my birthday. It’s a day of permission. To forego the shoulds (chores, work, deadlines), counting calories and ignoring my brain’s hamster wheel that always spins with endless contemplation of my path in life. Family and friends call, send cards, Facebook lights up with good cheer. There’s always something yummy to eat all day. My sons call me Most Beautiful Queen Mommy as our long standing tradition from their little boy days. All this love reminds me that I am a very lucky woman who lives deep in my life with wonderful people who cherish me, and I them.
I share my birthday philosophy with my girlfriends through the Tiara Ritual. For milestone birthdays, I give a tiara to my girlfriend chosen specifically for her unique style. Some are mile-high affairs, others more understated. My intent is less about saying “I’m the Queen for the day,” and more about honoring her unique gifts just by being herself. I think every woman should sparkle inside out every day, yet sometimes we need a talisman to remind us. Especially at a crossroads that big birthdays bring.
So for all my circle who love their birthdays too, I shout a big lusty HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And for those who choose to let the day pass quietly, “happy birthday.” My wish for you all as I blow out the candles this year is for you to let your light shine as brightly as the rhinestones in your crown, reminding you of the riches in your life.