Today is a sad, sad day for me, not because someone has passed away or some horrendous event has occurred. I am personally sad because this is the last day of my birthday month. Most people celebrate the day of their birth, but I prefer a birthday week and a birthday month. That may sound like I’m an egomaniac but let me explain. And, by the way, it’s not really a sad day. I am just teasing.
It has taken a while for my minimalistic ways to catch on in my family – not just my immediate family, but also my family of origin. Gifts have always been a way my family showed love, and growing up, Christmas and birthdays were an extravagant affair, gift-wise. These gifts weren’t necessarily elaborate in expense but certainly in the number of gifts received. I have planted the seeds with my family, and I have been dutifully watering them – talking frequently about my love of simplicity and how I don’t need material things. Finally, these messages seem to have sunk in, and I could not be happier about it.
Here is my idea of great birthday celebrations. About a week before my birthday, I start talking about it being my “birthday week.” This gives me the authority to choose the games we play in the evening (Skip-Bo is my current favorite.) If my daughter or husband suggests a meal or game I don’t favor, I just pull out the ace in my sleeve and declare it my birthday week – meaning I get to choose. Lest you think I’m a tyrant, I’m not. I just get to choose, and Greg and Rowan get the same courtesy on THEIR birthday week. Hearing Rowan (who is nine) declare, “No, Daddy, Mama gets to choose – it is HER birthday!” is music to my ears.
My birthday week usually stretches into two, as I try to wield my power in the week leading up to, and the week following my actual birthday. In my head, I celebrate all month long, but my status as the Birthday Queen wanes about a week after my birthday.
This year’s birthday was particularly wonderful. Typically, we choose a nice restaurant for birthday meals. This year, Greg and Rowan made me a special birthday dinner at home. Typically, my daughter feels compelled to buy a gift for me, and the best I can do is steer her toward something practical that I actually need. This year, she made me a great card that she and Daddy signed. She also made me a special birthday charm to carry around. Greg bought a bottle of my favorite wine and a package of my favorite cookies, and that was it. Really no additional costs over our normal weekly grocery spending. We had a lovely dinner and then played games. It was perfect.
But it was even better than that. I have a Barnes and Noble membership, and I got an email with a coupon for a free drink of any sort at their café. These email offers arrive once a month, plus I had a coupon for additional savings on a book. On my actual birthday, I hit the bookstore (browsing books is one of my most favorite things to do), chose a book for myself and one for Rowan, and headed to the checkout. I saved decent money with my coupon stacking, and the store printed out a buy-one-get-one cookie coupon with my receipt. This was just about the best thing I’d heard all day. I headed to the café, where I spent $2.45 on an enormous cookie, got a second one for free, and ordered my free chai latte.
At home, I shared my cookies with my family for dessert. Total spent on my birthday was $2.45, plus the cost of books.
Best. Birthday. Ever.
Do you celebrate your birthdays simply? Share your ideas so I have eleven months to start dropping hints!