This is the first year that I can remember when I've not only welcomed a birthday party, but I actually planned it myself. Typically, I let my family and close friends acknowledge my birthday, but because I despise being the center of attention, I absolutely forbid anyone to tell the wait staff in any restaurant that I am the guest of honor lest they decide to sing to me. I have also threatened my husband with a slow, painful torture should he ever throw me a surprise birthday party.
So imagine my surprise when, this year, I decided to save the four bottles of wine I managed to bring back from Sonoma and throw a wine, cheese, and birthday cake party for myself. After spending several days thoroughly puzzled as to my own motives, I think I've finally figured it out. I do not wish to be showered in gifts - it actually makes me incredibly uncomfortable to receive gifts at any time, but especially when I'm the only person in the room on the receiving end. I most definitely do not want to be sung to and I have no intention of putting even one candle in the chocolate cake I've ordered. I don't wish to be the center of attention.
I think I've simply decided that it is time for a celebration. Past time, in fact. The weather has turned and become rainy and windy and cold. The sky is dark by 6:15pm and stays that way until 7:00am. The daughter of one of my friends was recently hospitalized for surgery to remove a tumor growing on one of her ovaries. The little girl is five years old. Another one of my friends recently discovered that she was finally pregnant after five years of trying and three more years of giving up trying. Tomorrow she goes in for a D&C because the placenta failed to attach and her short-lived dream is shattered. One of my closest friends will undergo surgery at the end of this month to remove a tumor from her eardrum that has begun eating away at the bones in her ear, rendering her deaf on one side.
So on Saturday, we're cracking some fine California wine, opening some incredibly decadent cheese, slicing that gorgeous cake and having some laughs. If I have to be the center of attention for a little while in order to introduce some light on these difficult times, so be it. I can make that sacrifice. Let the good times roll. At the end of the night, we can all embrace and remind each other that, no matter what, we've got each other. And some damn fine wine, I hope!