My grandma couldn’t cook. She was a professional musician her entire adult life and spent a fair amount of time either traveling or at work during the dinner hours. She could, however, make a box-mix cake! Whenever we saw her(which wasn’t often because she lived at least a day’s drive away), she would make a cake. The kids were allowed to decorate the cake much to the chagrin of the parents. Ever have a gummy gems candy filled two-layer cake? I have! She would cram as many candles on the cake as possible, and we would all gather around to sing “Happy Birthday” with a string of people’s names in the middle of the stanza. When she passed away, I thought about those cakes and our unusual tradition of celebrating a year’s worth of birthdays in one cake.
When I was a kid – I hated that my birthday was in the summer. My parents weren’t much for celebrating so, coupled with the fact that most of my friends were either at camp or on vacation or had gone home for the summer, I never really had birthday parties as a kid. As an adult, I started to take matters into my own hands by planning my own birthday celebrations. Naturally, because I’m a marketeer, I would start the teaser campaign encouraging people to remember to come at the beginning of the month of July. I’d start dropping hints that my birthday was coming up into the conversation. Casually, of course. If the 11th of July came up in a meeting or with friends, I’d happily chime in that the 11th was my birthday. Did you know? Did you know that my birthday was on the 11th of July? 7/11 in American lingo. A very “convenient” day to remember! If people weren’t able to turn out for the celebration, I would casually joke “Well, that just means that we’ll have to celebrate another time!” And then we would! Slowly, dates with friends and special events filled the social calendars of me and my friends. I’m not sure who first referred to July as “The month of Emily.” A name that has good-naturedly endured as I’ve moved from city to city and across friend groups. I’m pretty okay with that.
Was I a little obnoxious? Probably. Did it encourage people to remember the day of my birth and inevitable fun that accompanied my existence? Definitely! Over the years – especially as the birthday candles pile up to be more than my fingers and toes can count – I will meet someone who scoffs at the Month of Emily. “Aren’t you a little old for that?” “Isn’t that really egotistical?” “You must be a real attention seeker!” Sometimes I get asked if I love just my birthday or birthdays in general? As my friends will attest, I celebrate all birthdays whole-heartedly. You have a birthday coming up? I am your personal cheerleader for the day! Sometimes, confused parties will inquire “Is it a milestone birthday?” To this, I always reply, “Every birthday is a milestone birthday.”
Why do I enthusiastically celebrate my birthday every year?
- It’s a fantastic annual milestone to contemplate and take stock in my life. Counterbalanced by New Year’s Eve, my July birthday is a reminder to check that I’m happy, I’m headed in the right direction and that I’m moving in the right direction.
- I love giving everyone an excuse to have a little bit of fun! My birthday doesn’t revolve around expensive dinners or trips but around interesting experiences that I think my friends will enjoy! I love being with my favorite people, and I am happy to use the “Birthday card” to make it happen! Everyone celebrates when I celebrate! Les Bon Temps Roule!
- I’ve lived many lives in 5 different cities around the world. Many of those friends have also moved on to different locations. When that little “Emily’s birthday is today.” reminder pops up, it kicks off conversations with people that I don’t get to see and hug every day anymore. I also tend to reminded to reach out to people that I cherish in the days leading up to my birthday. I suppose it because I want to ensure that another year doesn’t go by without me letting them know that I am still here for them.
- Being a nomad can sometimes be lonely. Each time I move, I hope that I can sustain with my former “tribe” and friendships. It doesn’t always work. Having a gathering if my current “tribe” gives me comfort and optimism that it’s all going to be ok. If there is a selfish reason why I celebrate then this is it.
- I celebrate because I am grateful that I can.
If you had ever lost a friend or loved one well before it was “their time,” then this reason will ring true for you also. I have lost family members and friends unexpectedly at ages that are on the young side of mid-life or, sadly, even younger. It is devastating and, for me, crystallizes a sense of urgency to not take a moment for granted.
I am grateful that I was born. I am grateful for the life I have lived. I am grateful to still be kickin’. I am grateful that I have a future that stretches out in front of me.
So I celebrate!