Birthdays are just a numbers game

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My best friend is having a birthday this week. It’s a “milestone” birthday, which means I could have a lot of fun with this one.

I’m thinking flocks of brightly painted yard flamingos, “Honk to wish her a happy birthday” or a balloon-a-gram sent to work. I do not, as a rule, get up to much mischief surrounding her birthday, but because she is six months older than me, it means that anything I give, I get back — in spades.

Six months is not enough time to forgive and forget. Six months is just enough time to plot, plan and extract revenge. It pays to play nice.

I do know that she’s feeling a bit apprehensive about this particular birthday.

Therefore, I think it time that I, good best-friend material that I am, explain how much FUN it can be to get older. Superior even.

Particularly if she goes first (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one).

You’re it

Take TV tag. TV tag is an classic game where you run around evading the person who is “it.” If “it” should come close to tagging you, you must shout out the name of a television show and freeze.

You are thus rendered immune by The Flintstones or The Dukes of Hazzard and “it” must move on to other prey. This would be prey that doesn’t think as quickly on the feet as you do or that has wasted time reading.

Well, let me tell you that older folk always have an advantage in this game. Mr. Wonderful and I played with the children last night and while, yes, they will always have youth and speed on their side, we can still beat them easily every single time.

Despite watching far more television that I would care to admit to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the truth is they can recall, at best, a dozen or so programs.

Meanwhile, we old folks have decades worth of couch-potato training at our fingertips. While the children collapsed, exhausted, with their miniscule supply of Disney Channel and Cartoon Network titles all tapped out, Mr. Wonderful and I sailed around the yard gleefully shouting out Hawaii 5-0, Gilligan’s Island and Mork and Mindy. The latter being one our daughter insisted we made up.

I could have played that game ALL NIGHT and never even used my reservoir of the Bionics (man and woman).

Numbers

Obvious tag-related superiority aside, I think most of us would agree that at some point, birthdays really are just all about numbers. Upon turning 9 yesterday, our daughter gloried in the knowledge that in just one more year, she would be “double digits.”

She approaches birthdays — and advancing age — like the gift it is. As it should be. When you get too conflicted about turning “a certain age,” considering the alternatives might considerably cheer you.

The truth is that if I get too maudlin about advancing age, I need only to think of the peers that passed away when we were just kids. Sadly, we almost all have them and they are forever suspended in youth, never to grow up or grow old.

Imagine all the living — and aging — they missed. The graduations not attended. The babies not had.

Makes worrying about a few wrinkles seem kind of pointless, doesn’t it? I decide every single time that I would take the pain of failed relationships, broken hearts and past mistakes all over again to be as alive as I am now. Living still seems like a pretty good deal.

Same

The truth is, my best friend will wake up on her birthday and, Lord willing, feel pretty much the same way as she did the day before — and 20 years ago, too. She may, in fact, decide to feel even better. What’s another “double digit,” after all? We’ve been having them for years.

Life is a glorious ride. There is love and loss and hard work and laughter and pain. But there are butterflies and summer days and favorite songs, too. Some have wedding vows and baby steps and if you are truly lucky, one friend in your life, like mine, who says “You call, I come.”

Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. Each year is like a gift, as of yet unwrapped, but full of hope, promise and the great unknown. We should embrace that, not dread it. Always.

If you are really lucky, you’ll have many, many years of getting to have your birthday cake and eating it, too.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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