Birthday Blues

July 13, 2019


When I was 8 years old, my family forgot my birthday, sort of.


My birthday party had been held on a Saturday. My birthday fell on a Wednesday the following week. I had friends and family over. It was a nice party. Cake and presents, a real nice party.


The week went on and it was my birthday. I woke up. Nobody said anything to me.


I kept waiting. Maybe they were punking me.


I had my cereal. My brother didn’t say anything to me. He just ate.


We got ready for school. He left ahead of me on his bike. I walked alone. I pondered why he didn’t say anything. Maybe we were having a big birthday dinner. Maybe they were saving their happy birthdays until then.


I got to school. It was just a normal day. I went about school work and recess. Nobody said anything about my birthday. None of my friends said anything. I didn’t say anything. Now, I wanted to see how long it would be until someone said something.


My teacher didn’t say anything. For other kids, the teacher always announced when it was someone’s birthday. He didn’t say anything. I was puzzled.


I went home feeling maybe I had the wrong day. Maybe I was the one who was mixed up.


When I got home, I checked the calendar. Yes, it said, October 14th. It was even circled in red pen.


Mom got home from work. She was in a hurry to get me out the door to dance class. I was all ready to go. We got in the car. The radio was playing. It was a silent drive, all but the radio. She didn’t say much of anything. I was still waiting. Maybe they had something planned.


I went to dance class. Nobody mentioned my birthday. I didn’t really expect them to. It wasn’t something we did in there. My mood was a bit sour. I had gone all day without anyone noticing me.


I was not on my A-game. I was missing steps I knew how to do. My instructor was a bit short-tempered with me. We rehearsed until we got it right. The rest of my class was frustrated that I was pulling them down.


The class was over and my mom was waiting in the car.


We drove home. She asked how class was and I said fine. Nothing more was said. The radio still played.


We were almost home when I asked, “Are we going out for dinner?”


“Why would we go out for dinner?” she responded.


I was crushed. They had forgotten me.


I started crying.


“You forgot my birthday!” I cried. “Nobody wished me a happy birthday. You all forgot. Tom didn’t. You didn’t.”


My mom turned off the radio. We were at a stoplight. She reached around and took my hand.

“I’m so sorry, hun. Yes, I did forget. We celebrated your birthday on Saturday.” she said softly.


I was still crying. The light changed. She let go of my hand.


I knew we didn’t really have the money to go out to dinner, but sometimes my mom would take us to Ricardo’s for birthday dinners.


We got home and walked in the door. There were no big surprises. They truly had forgotten. I was still crushed. My mom got down to eye level with me. She hugged me. She apologized. She said that with the party it had just thrown her off, it was probably the same for Tom.


My mom called my brother out to the living room. I was still crying. She told him, “Today is Marie’s birthday. Wish your sister a happy birthday.”


“Happy birthday,” he said to me. “Mom, what’s for dinner?”


My mom sighed and went to the kitchen to make dinner. I don’t recall what we ate. Whatever it was it was served with a green salad. Every meal we had was served with a green salad.


Ever since then, I had always made a big deal about my birthdays. I wanted to celebrate them. I never wanted to be forgotten again.


When my son was born the day before my birthday, I was stricken by the fact I would be forgotten again. Sometimes it happened, but as I matured, I realized it didn’t matter. Birthdays are just another day to mark the growth of another year.


Unlike the year I was 8, I prefer my birthday to fall on a Wednesday. This way, you can celebrate the weekend before, the day of and the weekend after. You get three days to celebrate the best of the birth of you!


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