My birthday has me down. It’s not the age itself. As a matter of fact, there’s something appealing about the alliteration of fifty-five. It helps take the sting out of a number that it would be tough to argue is still middle-aged. No, this year, anticipating the number, which climbs inexorably every year, didn’t provoke anxiety or even mild teeth gnashing. The most I could muster was indifference, and that’s not like me.
I’ve always looked forward to my birthday, co-opting the date, December 25, as my own. I call it Judymas. Yes, I was born on Christmas. (When I say that, people ask, “Christmas day?” Yes, Christmas day, otherwise I would say Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas, or whatever.) It’s not the most convenient day to have a birthday. I’ve written about that before, so I’m sure you know the drill; no one to play with because everyone’s busy with their families, and thank goodness I like Chinese food because there are no other restaurants open. But despite the whole, “I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas,” thing, I do love the attention I get when people discover my birthday; that brief moment when I feel special. I don’t feel special any more.
Maybe I’m finally starting to grow up. I can no longer selfishly put myself above everything else that’s happening in the world to expect, nay demand, attention. Or maybe I’ve finally realized that I never was special. I generated my own PR and acted as a one-woman cheerleading squad. When I stopped cheering, things were strangely quiet.
I don’t want you to think that my husband and daughter failed me on my birthday. They didn’t. An appropriate fuss was made. There was breakfast in bed, with presents, and I got to pick the movie we went to that afternoon. My grousing is no reflection on them; it’s all about me (suggesting that maybe I haven’t overcome that selfish streak after all).
It’s commonly accepted that there are people who tend to get depressed around the holidays. Since the big one is Christmas, which I don’t celebrate, it doesn’t seem sporting of me to claim ‘holiday blues,’ but maybe that’s all it is. Yes, holidays and a touch of seasonal affective disorder—two sick parents, friends who are mourning, the loss of a beloved pet, disruption of personally satisfying pursuits—wait a second, I may be onto something here. That’s a lot of weight to have been carrying around (not to mention that I’m a stress eater and the last few months have been stressful so you know what that means). Could it be that on the run-up to my birthday I ran out of energy?
Yesterday my father had an encouraging doctor’s visit and we left feeling upbeat for the first time in a while. Our new kitten, Harper, is adorable (and we don’t really need a plant in the living room). Andrew likes his job and I’m confident that Hannah will go to college next year. Tonight we’ll be celebrating the New Year with friends. Objectively speaking, life could be worse. It seems obvious to me now; my New Year’s resolution will be to learn some new cheers, for me and you. Happy 2014.