Celebrating Life


We celebrated my daughter’s fifth birthday a little early this year with a party for a few friends and a lot of family at Skelly’s Pumpkin Farm. It was a beautiful day, perfect for outdoor fun, and I think a good time was had by all (although that may be the last time I voluntarily take nine 5-year-olds through a corn maze). We did make it out though, and nobody had to call 911 to be found. It was a special day for the birthday girl, surrounded by friends and family who were there to celebrate with her.

I once had a friend tell me that she preferred not to celebrate her birthday because she didn’t want to be reminded that she was getting old. While I respect her right to her opinion, I don’t understand it.

Your birthday is YOUR day, it’s the day when friends, family and you can celebrate YOU. Why not celebrate your life and enjoy the fact that you have loved, cried, jumped for joy, mourned, laughed and LIVED another year. Even when I was single, 1,000 miles away from family, and not dating, I still found a way to celebrate my birthday.

I’ve always thought birthdays were important, and my husband shares my opinion. When we were dating, he came to my apartment to take me out for my birthday with cake in hand because, he said, “everyone should have a cake on their birthday.”

Cakes are important. Grandma always makes the cakes for the birthday grandchild, careful to ask what kind of cake. For my daughter’s birthday party, she provided the requested Princess Aurora cake, going to the store and buying three tiara and wand sets to complete the decorations.

The first year we were married my husband actually baked my cake himself (from a box mix). He interpreted the instructions to say that you put all the batter into one 8-inch round pan, so we sort of had a mushroom instead of a cake, and a big mess to clean up in the oven, but it was fun, and I will never forget that cake.

I remember as a young girl, making a birthday cake for a friend who wasn’t going to have a party. Our oven was on the fritz, so Mom and I got the microwave cookbook out and tried making a cake in the microwave. You could’ve broken a window with that cake, but my friend seemed touched by the gesture that someone had remembered her and her special day.

Our family has been hit hard by several deaths this year, some expected, some sudden, and none of them easy. Even as we mourn the people who have passed away, we celebrate their lives. It’s important to celebrate the lives of those you love. Even as I write this article it would be my mother’s 80th birthday, and I celebrate her— if only with a gentle remembrance that I keep entirely to myself. Fall was always her favorite time of year. As my mother-in-law commented at my daughter’s party, after I came back from the corn maze rather weary, “your mother is probably looking down and laughing right now”. No doubt she was, and smiling about something called “payback”.

Whether you celebrate with cake and games, or a quiet walk in the park, or a simple mental remembrance, birthdays are important. They celebrate the lives of special people. Do you know someone who is alone or perhaps homebound? Send that person a card, or pick up the phone and call. It might mean the world if you remembered. It would to me.

Birthdays celebrate us and life, and frankly, the older I get the more I want to party and tell the world about it. Life is challenging. I want to celebrate every year.

©2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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