Yes, I’ll gladly blow out my candles

No need to worry over the candles on the cake, just pass the plates.

Life is a gift to be appreciated, birthdays a celebration of another year here. My birthday fell on Friday this year, and it has been a weekend-long celebration.

People who say, ‘oh, I don’t celebrate birthdays anymore’ are sure missing out on a whole lot of fun! I turned 52 this year, and have happily celebrated each one.

A bonfire surrounded by a circle of friends, laughing late in to the night, seems to me the perfect way to say I am happy to be alive. I feel so blessed!

Perfect weather

After a winter that was far too long, a spring that came in like a lion, it was a gift to have starry skies overhead, a crescent moon glowing, and not a bit of wind even high on this hill where the breeze seems to rarely stop.

I remember birthdays in which snow fell in a chilly blast, others that brought sunshine and sprouting spring flowers. A picture that endures in a photo album somewhere captures me on my fourth birthday, dressed in spring jacket and bonnet, kneeling in to check out the beautiful crocus and daffodils blooming at the front of the house in which we all grew up. My little dog stood in my shadow, never far from my side.

Easter finest

Easter bonnets and shiny new patent leather shoes were part of the birthday season for me. I was lucky enough to have had three older sisters, so there was almost always a dress that felt new to me when it appeared in my closet that could be called ‘the Easter dress’, which was almost a necessity.

We would wear our Easter bonnets with the entire ensemble long enough for pictures and Sunday School, and then the bonnets were relegated to the depths of a closet until another season rolled around.

Chores in the month of Easter seemed much more fun as we searched for hidden litters of kittens in the hay mow, experienced the thrill of seeing a fawn from a distance or silly-looking ducklings follow a mama duck toward the farm pond. The monotony of winter chores on our farm was broken by welcomed sunshine and rebirth.

I still welcome that rebirth and, along with that, my own birthday.

Celebrate life

I think of my dear, sweet Aunt Barbie who said to me on her 49th birthday, “They had a nice party for me at work. I think we all know I am not going to be having another one.”

Sadly, she was right.

I think of my best friend, Wendy, who had quietly let me note her 44th birthday and less than two weeks later was fighting for her life after a tragic early-morning accident.

I remember classmates, gone all too soon.

In light of all of this, I try to embrace the gift of another birthday, the gift of each and every day, really. I try to celebrate for those who didn’t get to grow older along with us, while holding them dear in treasured memories.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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