I want to set one thing straight right off the bat. I am not writing this bit to get pity. Far from it. It is just a tale to tell. This past weekend I took my son to a birthday party. The young boy turned seven this week and he is the son of a friend of mine who died four months ago. I wanted to be at the party to show my support. I was afraid that he had forgotten who I was. But he remembered and it warmed my heart. He had just started talking about his mom again. He had shut down for a while. But now he was talking about her favorite color. I smiled at him and nodded. Her favorite color was orange by the way. An interesting color to be enamored of.
While at the party I reflected on how we all came together to this event. We wanted him to have a joyous, normal birthday. One that he could remember with fondness. And, that is most certainly a noble goal under normal circumstances. And, under this particular circumstance, it was a very intentional noble act. But it got me thinking about my own birthday celebrations. And, in all honesty I can say barely remember any.
Growing up I was very poor and thus birthday celebrations while grand in love were sparse in gifts and parties. I don’t think I have ever had a birthday party. I have been fortunate to have had birthday celebrations at work and in my adult life. The last two decades I have done small trips for my birthday, eaten at great restaurants, received wonderful greetings and gifts, and had fantastic hugs from my son. I can’t complain. But I can’t remember specific birthdays. Is it a sign of faulty memory? I tend to focus on other people’s birthdays. I’m the one who plans trips, outings, gift buying and the like.
Oddly, I do remember my birthday from 2011 as that was the day Osama Bin Laden was killed. There were massive gatherings all throughout New York City. I remember standing behind an anchorman as he gave the latest update on that “breaking news”. It was an overwhelming feeling to see emotions run the gamut especially as I lived right near Ground Zero. It was an odd birthday. I kept joking that people were really out en masse to wish me a grand birthday. I took tons of photos to commemorate that day.
And that is how America must feel year after year on the 4th of July. Yes, I know it took me a while to get to this point. Happy Birthday United States of America. It is a grand day to celebrate a birth of a nation. I have always loved this country, even while living abroad. I hope it “lives long and prospers”. And that on this 242nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence we celebrate with grand fervor not only its birthday and history but its potential for greatness and being a beacon of hope. Who wouldn’t want such a wonderful birthday legacy?