My favorite holiday is New Years Eve. I love it because it marks a chance for new beginnings and a start to the emergence on the Sun from winter hibernation. Throw in all the best parts of Christmas that are still hanging around (lights, food, extended family) and you’ve got what is essentially a birthday for everyone all at once. This is important because my second favorite holiday of the year is my birthday.
Is it narcissistic to take a normal day and pretend its a holiday centered entirely around me? Absolutely, but its my party and I’ll.. well you know. Even if I have to work and can’t celebrate until later in the week, I wake up every July 11th and feel excited, glowing with my little secret. Everyday things like making tea and listening to music feel special because, more than any other day, I choose to do them just for me.
This year though, I woke up feeling a little bit sad. I wasn’t able to spend much time with friends during the week because of work. My parents are spending the summer biking around British Columbia and would be out of cell phone range, making a birthday call impossible. Nick and I were the only people working in the campground that day so I felt a bit isolated as I made my completely average morning tea.
My thoughts drifted to birthdays when I was a little kid. My favorite part was always making a wish before blowing out the candles. I was missing that feeling of excitement and anticipation, of looking around and thinking “So this is what it feels like to be older!”. I couldn’t pin down that internal glow of having a day that was just for me, even if no one else knew about it or cared.
This was simply gratuitous nostalgia. Two days earlier, I had a fantastic time hanging out with my best friend and her family for two days. We all experienced the joy of watching two five yearolds revel in their first camping trip. Then, the evening of my birthday, I got to go on a trail run with my friend SaRah. We had an awesome time running for twenty seven minutes up a steep trail to celebrate my twenty seventh year before turning around and trying to beat the deepening dark back to the car. We hung out around my campfire, sipping beers and talking about our lives.
After she left, I took Jagger out for our evening stroll. I meandered down the dark road still trying to find a way to make the last few minutes of my birthday feel like they did in years past. As I approached the campground gate, a slight shimmer caught my eye. Illuminated in the beam of my headlamp, one lone dandelion pollen wavered precipitously on top of the gate, its lightweight feathers attached only by friction to the rough paint. I smiled as I plucked it from its perch.
“What should I wish for?” I asked Jagger, who only glanced at me from the corner of his eye, steadfastly pursuing ten different smells at once. I looked at the pollen resting in my open palm, racking my brain for a birthday wish. Should I wish for success in my career this year? No, I thought to myself, that depends on me repeatedly choosing to work my ass off, not wishful thinking. How about something more important, like internal peace? No way, that would be far too mature and responsible. What about something material? I already had a new pair of running shoes on order, what more could I need?
I stood and thought for a few more seconds. I couldn’t focus on anything I wanted. I thought instead about hanging out with SaRah and how happy I was to have someone to share a birthday run with. I thought about how much fun I had camping with the kids a few days before. I thought about where I was at that moment, living in a campground in my tiny house, fulfilling a childhood dream. I thought about my parents and the other people in my life who were spending the summer doing exactly what they wanted to be doing. There was nothing left to wish for. I smiled and blew out a long breath, sending the dandelion wish wafting away on a thermal of gratitude. I strolled back to my campsite, glowing with excitement for another ordinary day.