Make Something: Birthday

My birthday is May 1 … just two days away.

I’m calling this year my halfway point. As I reach age forty-five, ninety seems a reasonable life expectancy—just a bit longer than my mom lived, but not so long as to be an oddity. (God forbid I become an oddity. We wouldn’t want that.)

Anyway, with this whole birthday thing front of mind, I smiled when I turned to the last page of Noah Scalin’s 365: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life and found that today’s prompt encourages birthday innovation.

“Day 364: Create a new birthday song or tradition. Bonus: Get people to sing or do it at the next birthday party you attend.”

I’m not having a party. I thought about it. But scheduling and planning a celebration felt like more of a burden than a blessing. So I set that idea aside.

Still, I am not shy about receiving attention on my birthday. I want it, even at middle age. This Thursday I will beam as friends, family members, restaurant servers, and insurance agents invest a few breaths or keyboard strokes to wish me well. They will encourage my happiness, just because I was born and continue to stay alive. That’s nice. I’ll take it.

And really, a few simple words are enough. “Happy birthday, Beth!” “Enjoy the day, birthday girl!” “Hope it’s a good one, friend!” Any variation on these phrases will do. I don’t need cards or gifts or flaming dessert or a party or even a good spanking. (Though any of these would be fine.)

Truly. A few kind words will suffice to honor my temporary victory over the aging process.

But Mr. Scalin has opened a door to new ideas. And who am I to stand in the way of his quest for ingenuity? So, in the spirit of innovation, I do have one suggestion for a birthday tradition that would suit a person like me (i.e., a person who loves friendship, words, rhymes, humor, and being the center of attention).

Presents of Poetry

Everyone honors the birthday person with a rhyming couplet—like a toast, but with strategic phrasing and word choice, and without the clinking glasses of booze.

The honoree assembles these two-liners into a poem and saves each year’s composition in an ever-expanding birthday journal—like an annual scrapbook of birthday blessings.

What do you think? Maybe this could take off. If you’re interested in experimenting, I know someone celebrating a birthday the day after tomorrow. Maybe you could send her a couplet …

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