When I turned three years old, I expected to have a costume party like my sister Mary had a few weeks before. For Mary’s 5th birthday, she dressed up as an angel, and her pals came over dressed up as cowboys, fairies, artists, minnie mouses, dancers and clowns. I was a bunny. So naturally, I assumed on my third birthday, I would walk down the stairs to the same sort of crowd dressed up to celebrate my big day. Alas, as I got to the bottom of the stairs, clad in my bunny ears, I saw no such gathering. My adorable mom scooped me up in her arms as I wailed, distraught over the lack of costumed birthday attendants. She told me we were going to dine at my favorite restaurant, and my sister Katie made me a crown out of construction paper. I happily got in the car with my parents and three older siblings, acknowledging that although I didn’t have friends to dress up with me, at least there was cake in my immediate future.
That’s the first birthday that I remember. Later there would be my 8th birthday, when I invited every girl in the second grade, and we all dressed up as princesses. We ditched the planned party games and ended up spending the whole evening having contests to see who was the best at pretending to faint. Forget pin the tail on the donkey. We just wanted to practice our Oscar-winning fainting skills. Another year, the “Ring Fairy” came. She reached her hand out our basement door window and sprinkled fairy dust as my fellow seven year olds and I cheered! (One of my friends had mixed feelings about this so-called ring fairy and decided to stay in the living room. We assured her we’d save a ring for her, despite her fear of this strange fairy that apparently only hung out in basements.) We couldn’t believe our good fortune as the ring fairy (who was too shy to show her face OBVIOUSLY) passed out dazzling rings for each girl before returning to her fairy land. What really happened was my sister, Katie, made a big show of leaving the house to go to a flute lesson. Then she sneakily army crawled to the back door and down to the basement. She put on the white elbow length gloves she had worn to prom the spring before, (remember, this was the 90’s), and sprinkled glitter out the basement door window while my mom played some enchanting Enya music on our boom box. Side note-I believed in the ring fairy and the tooth fairy far longer than I believed in Santa Claus. A fairy that shows up at the occasional birthday, or a fairy that gives you money in exchange for your unwanted teeth every once in awhile, seems far more logical than an old man and a band of elves who somehow wrangle together some flying reindeer and drop off presents at every single house on the planet in ONE NIGHT.
My 22nd birthday fell on the 2012 presidential election, and I got the best birthday present I could have dreamed of – a reelected President Obama. I had a birthday where my parents and siblings came to see me perform in one of my college shows (the first time the six of us had been together on my birthday since I was 7.) Another year, I turned 21 onstage whilst performing in a cabaret with my friend, Samantha, and afterwards, I got to have 25 hours of birthday thanks to daylight savings time.
I love getting older because it just means I’m getting closer to cool things that haven’t happened yet. It’s like the fabulous Stephen Sondheim wrote- “Something’s coming I don’t know what it is, but it is, gonna be great…” I’m gonna make this year a pretty rocking one. So tonight on the eve of my birthday I am excited about the year to come. And naturally, I’m excited to eat some delicious cake.