It’s the 6th of December and just after 5am. The house is silent and outside, it’s still dark. I’ve only just woken up when my family barrels into my bedroom. They’re already singing Happy Birthday when I lay eyes on them.
Mom’s leading the pack, waving her hands to direct the traffic of bodies into my room – like some sort of conductor. My brothers are close behind, followed by my father who is flanked by our dogs and the one cat that cares enough to join in.
Crumb (9) (not his real name) and Nugget (5) (not his real name) lead the singing. Their voices carry through our otherwise quiet house, bounce off the walls and alert all of our neighbours that it’s my nineteenth birthday. While Nugget helps me open presents, we have a hearty cake pop breakfast (the delicious pops feature two of my all-time favourite things: cats and Christmas).
In general, I like keeping my birthday on the down-low.
But that doesn’t go according to plan this year (at all). At work, it seems as though I have a ‘IT’S MY BIRTHDAY’ sign stapled to my back (I promise, I don’t). My boss gifts me Josephine the Orchid (its actual name) and my colleagues shower me with enough chocolates to swim in. I spend the day coming up with different ways to phrase, “thank you so much!” and, “yes, I’m only nineteen” and, “I hope you have a great day too”.
When I return home I find several of my friends waiting to surprise me. They’re armed with enough cupcakes and cake to feed all the neighbours that were woken by enthusiastic singing earlier. We sit for hours, laughing, eating pizza and avoiding the realisation that we’re growing up, getting older and on our way to becoming Sort of Independent Adults.
Being around all these people, and receiving their messages, reminds me how incredibly lucky I am to have them. (And reminds me that birthdays at our house are never a small affair.)
Despite not wanting to make a big deal out of my birthday, there’s something so wonderful about starting it out like this – with family and well wishes (and cake). It’s this celebratory spirit that carries me through the day.