MOVarazzi

Monday, February 14, 2011

330. Valentine Starts With "J"

My sister, Oakley, was born on February 14th. I was always secretly envious of her special-celebrated-by-the-world day. Growing up, she typically received gifts with a “heart” theme—heart-shaped candy, sweaters or dresses with embroidered hearts, heart-shaped stationery, heart-shaped picture frames, Lovey-Dove Barbie. If it was pink or red and had hearts on it, someone bought it for her.

While I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and my stupid September birthday, Oakley was lamenting the fact that her gifts were predictable and cliché. “Oh, socks with a heart design, and heart-shaped barrettes? How original,” she’d mutter without a smidgen of faux gratitude. I never understood why she wasn’t delirious with pink delight that she’d won the Birthday Lottery.

I mentioned my sister’s inexplicable grouchiness to my friend, Sammi. “You’re joking, right?” she said. “You do know when my birthday is—December 25th?” Instead of sympathizing with my jealousy issues, Sammi commiserated with Oakley. “MOV, as a child, every Christmas I received a Christmas-slash-birthday gift from my friends and even some family members. It’s like my birthday was always an afterthought. Even now, as an adult, my girlfriends get to go out and drink margaritas on their birthdays; but on my day, I’m helping my sons open presents from Santa—not that I’m not grateful for my sons and family—it’s just … it’s like my birthday is a wash. Like it doesn’t even exist.”

Eek, I hadn’t meant to open this Pandora’s box. (Do you think Pandora’s birthday fell on Halloween? Or perhaps St. Patrick’s Day?) Why are we so protective of our birthdays? Why do we want the world to recognize and appreciate us once a year, and get grumpy if the specific day is overlooked? Isn’t it better to be noticed the other 364 days with little gestures, tiny moments that remind you that you matter to someone?

I called Oakley to sing “Happy Birthday.” She answered on the second ring. “Oh, I forgot. Today’s my birthday.” How could she forget? (And more to the point: Wouldn’t I have been in big trouble if I’d forgotten?)

"Are you going to do anything special for your birthday?" I asked cautiously, attempting to navigate the bumpy terrain of birthday candles and glittery hearts. 

“Nah. Robert and I went skiing last weekend to celebrate my birthday, and next week we’re going wine-tasting in Napa to celebrate Valentine’s Day. You know I avoid doing anything on the 14th because of the crowds.”

Clever Oakley. Choosing to Not Celebrate with a ski weekend and a trip to Napa. I’m still jealous.

MOV
(“Miss Oakley Valentine”)

8 comments:

  1. This heart goes out to you! Happy Valentine's Day!

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  2. haha! well here's one for you... I was born on my mothers bday. And people still say to me, "oh how cool is that!! it must be great to share your bday with your mom!!" hmmm, yeah, I don't think so! can you imagine, always having to share a bday? my brothers would get their special bday dinner (at a restaruant!!) with just my parents. and for MY bday? um, my mom wanted her special day too, so she and my dad would go out to eat with friends. and leave me home. and now that we are older? she still has bdays for my brothers, gets everybody over for Sunday dinner to celebrate their bdays. but on our bday? she says its her special day,so its up to us and my dad to plan something for her. it sucks. big time.

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  3. I am so sorry, Anonymous! If today is not your "real" calendar birthday, then I am wishing you a very Happy Birthday! (And see? I am not wishing your mom a happy birthday, just you. So you get a special day here on my blog! oops, I just remembered it is still my sister's b-day, so I guess you are sharing with her now. Big sigh.)
    thanks for writing, it is so nice to know people are reading/ following my kooky ruminations and refelctions.
    best,
    MOV

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  4. wellll, how about sharing your day with Jesus?! Party at the midnight Mass! (I'm just sayin' ...) ;)

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  5. my child has the unfortunate luck to have her birthday on April 15th. That's right....tax day. She is convinced that EVERYONE in the USA hates her birthday! Every year she celebrates with a Halloween theme....just to confuse everyone! (she is 19 now and still feels the same way).

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  6. FYI-- The Husband celebrates his special day on May first. Yes, one might *think* that would be a relatively benign day-- but one would be wrong. Everyone and their sister has decided that May 1 is THE day to get married (take a quick poll of all your married friends: you will see that 75%, give or take, have May 1 anniversaries). I cannot tell you how many May 1s we have had to endure standing in the blazing sunshine listening to (yet another) pair of friends proclaim their undying love and commitment to one another. Almost makes you wish for a Tax Day birthday (sorry to Jennie W's daughter!).
    best,
    MOV
    ps--my first choice bday? 4th of July! Always fireworks, always a legal holiday!

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  7. I made sure that when boy 2 was born, it was NOT on my birthday. (Had to have a scheduled c-section for health reasons.) We are 4 days apart so we each get our "special" day. My husband's brother's birthday is July 4, but being English it doesn't have much significance. We still like to joke about all the fireworks just in honor of him.

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When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)