Every Birthday is Worth Marking

Today is my birthday, my forty-third. Or actually my forty-fourth if you count my real "birth" day. Neither is one of the biggies: a decade one like the thirtieth or fortieth or fiftieth. For some reason, those bear celebrating while others, such as the thirty-seventh or forty-eighth, don't. Perhaps it has something to do with our number of fingers, our base ten mentality. But even though I often forget how old I am and have to figure it out when filling out a form (I tend to get stuck on even numbered ages for some reason), I celebrate all my birthdays.

Life is fun. And to paraphrase former president Ronald Reagan, getting older sure beats the alternative. When we're young, we celebrate every birthday up to the sixteenth. Then we start skipping, usually celebrating eighteen, then twenty-one, then the quarter-century before settling down to the often funereal attitude that passes for an adult's celebration of a passing decade. I think adults get so depressed about birthdays because they get out of practice.

I've been forced to celebrate mine because of tradition. It was always the day we set up the tree and manger scene, hung garlands and strings of old Christmas cards on the walls, and by the way, had a birthday cake. And now those years of practice are being reinforced by my kids. They have at least three parties for each birthday: one at school, one for just family, and the big one with invited friends and interesting things to do. Plus I get to go to their friend's parties. I just spent a couple hours at Fit for Fun climbing the faux rock wall, sliding down tubes, and jumping in the ball pit. One of the moms said there was an adult-sized playland in Albuquerque. Maybe it's just the thing for kickstarting a happy fiftieth celebration for people who only see their birthday as marking lost opportunities and taking them one step closer to certain death.

Before I had kids, I always joked that a baby's age shouldn't be given as two weeks or seven months. By common reckoning, they're zero. But one mom told me her baby was definitely not a zero. And they really aren't. It's fun watching the changes a newborn goes through as it figures out how to see, what this thing called touch is, and how to cry and manipulate the people and environment surrounding it. So how come we start life by counting at zero instead of one? The initial birthday seems to warrant a more significant number.

A couple friends of mine just had babies. Paul and Diane even brought Isaac down to the jam at Avogadro's to show off the newest possible picker (and to take advantage of the fact that very young children will sleep through anything, even banjos).

And a couple other friends, Paul and Lori, just gave birth to Aiden, their sixth child. I know there is a population problem and that many people will think having more than your allotted two is irresponsible, even irreverent to mother earth. Yet if every person I ever met only had a single brother or sister, I wonder if that lack of diversity would somehow diminish the experience of "family" for the entire human race. Granted, we can't afford for everyone to have large families, but I don't think we can also afford for no one to.

For my birthday, I'd like to welcome both Isaac and Aiden aboard for the ride that is your life. I hope every birthday each of you has is a joy worth celebrating.