My co-workers decked out my cubicle for my birthday. I cringed a little bit: my inner strict-librarian-party-pooper objected to streamers and pinwheels in the workplace. But I liked the attention.
See? I wore pink. How festive is that?
All the clients I worked with seemed amused. I told myself in a stern inner monologue voice not to freak out so much over [gasp] what people might think. I like to think of myself as generally fun-loving and giddy. Unless I feel self conscious. Then I am a clam and burrow into the sand. Frowning.
So it was a good exercise for me to take myself seriously as a professional evenwith tacky birthday decor all around me. And I think it made me more human. My first client came into my cubicle and said, "It's your birthday?!" and gave me a big hug. So sweet!
The ironic thing is that before I got to work, I was feeling mighty sorry for myself. I was missing a childhood tradition. As a kid, every June 15th, Mom left a surprise in my bedroom after I fell asleep. When I woke up on birthday morning, I always found a big balloon hovering over me like a celebratory cloud. I was queen for the day and got special treatment from my parents (fewer chores) and from my four siblings (artwork and little handmade gifts). I got to choose one meal on my birthday. Barbecued hamburgers and shish kabobs were favorites, and then strawberry pie instead of birthday cake. In Northwest Washington, strawberries first show up in grocery stores and farmers' corner stands in June. Those first berries of the season are the best. A whole year without them makes them that much sweeter when they're back in season.
My husband, on the other hand, is not so fond of birthdays. He would just as soon skip them. They make him feel older and further removed from the happy days of childhood. He tends to be a curmudgeon in general (not always, but he can makes my inner stern-librarian-party-poop persona look like spring break in Cancun) and birthdays bring out a cynical side of him. So let's just say there was not the festive atmosphere that I grew to love as a child on this, the morning of my 29th birthday. We'll just leave it at that.
And how can I really complain without sounding like an eight year old? "Do you remember what day it is? Are you going to say happy...... you know? Is it party time?" I may or may not have heard this sentence: "I gave you a gift last night!" In this hypothetical scenario, you can imagine me replying, "but that was yesterday! TODAY is my birthday!" I may or may not have heard, "It was after midnight! It was your birthday!"
So anyway, all hypotheticals aside, I was sulking on the drive to work.
Until I got to my cubicle and found more birthday party decorations than I'd seen in a long time. And my co-workers even brought angel food cake with strawberries, Boston cream pie with strawberry topping, and sugar cookies with strawberry frosting. I almost cried. I don't know which was more fun, the excitement of being celebrated, or the sugar high. The card they gave me is PERFECT.
And for the record, that night a certain curmudgeon took me out to a wonderful dinner of my choice and spoiled me rotten in more ways than one.