Being a December baby has always been a curse.
A child with a birthday that falls two days after Christmas gets a birthday party in February, gifts wrapped in Christmas paper and possibly, the worst: "This is your combined birthday AND Christmas gift."
As a child growing up, my parents forgot my birthday. Not every year but generally, I'd start dropping a few hints mid-morning and then they'd look a little flustered and say, "OHMYGOSH, it's Jan's birthday!" One year, I bought a pin to wear that said something to the effect of, "TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!" I showed up for breakfast, proudly wearing the pin that year.
Having a sister born on the 31st didn't help matters. I don't think my mother ever combined our birthday parties but she was probably tempted!
So I'm always delighted when someone does something special for me on or around my birthday. I don't make a big deal out of my birthday and I don't expect others to, either. Still, it's nice to be remembered (just ask my dad - I forgot his 70th this year!) and to be celebrated.
My good friend Nancy who I so admire for her generosity and compassion offered to host an early birthday dinner for me with my friends from the gym. I could have cried from gratitude (and I did - a little!).
This month has been more trying than I've let on. I've found myself "putting on the happy face" for Ben and at the same time, feeling a little deflated and overwhelmed with the closing of a year that has brought more than its share of challenges. A party was just what I needed, and Nancy was intuitive and insightful enough to know that.
We gathered - five of us - in Nancy's warm and sweet home for a wonderful meal, good wine, an enormous cheesecake and presents (YES, presents! Before my birthday!!!!).
For my actual birthday, I'll be in New York. It would be hard to find a better spot to be in to celebrate 39 years. But I'll tell you what: being at Nancy's and sitting in front of the fire, having lots of laughs and being supported by four fabulous, strong women was right up there with any celebration I could ever have in a big city.
Nancy, on a list of the nicest things that people have done for me, this ranks right up in the top five. I treasure you. The gift of your friendship is the best gift of all.