The last time I had a birthday party, I turned forty-two. She's still in the party-every-year phase of life.
I had a Douglas Adams themed birthday party, including petunia and whale related art, and had friends over to play games with us. Some wouldn't have considered it a real party because no one got drunk and it was overall pretty quiet, but it was exactly the kind of celebration I wanted. Good food and good fun with good friends.
It's been a few years since then, and I've been fine without another party in the intervening years, so clearly I'm not anyone's definition of a party animal.
I didn't plan to have a birthday party this year. Forty-nine didn't feel like a milestone or anything. I am hoping to celebrate bigger next year, when I hit the big five-oh. But still, knowing that I *couldn't* have a party felt strange. Knowing I couldn't invite my parents down for their usual visit made me feel cut off, even though I'm introverted enough to not really feel that sting as hard as some.
But my daughter . . .well, she turned thirteen and that was a rough one to spend in solitude. It should have been a big sleepover extravaganza with so much giggling. Dad and I should have woken up the next morning bleary eyed and grumpy, but happy that our girl had a great time.
Lots of us are celebrating different milestones in quarantine: important birthdays, anniversaries, big moments of life like retirement or publishing a book. It's harder to make those moments shine when a lot of our go-to celebration ideas are just not available to us.
My girl was allowed to "skip" school on her birthday and sleep until lunch.
Lunch was the takeout of her choice (Chik-fil-a). Dinner was the mom-and-dad-prepped meal of her choice (pot roast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli).
She helped make her own birthday cake because she likes baking almost as much as she likes eating sweets: Mexican chocolate cake with cinnamon frosting.
We wrote out a treasure hunt set of clues and followed her around the house while she figured out where her presents were, and then built her a fabulous pillow fort from which she watched Wall-e with the dog (Mom and Dad watched from the couch).
I can't describe how much it lifted our hearts that our baby turned thirteen and wanted a treasure hunt, a pillow fort, and an animated film for her celebratory activities.
We still plan to give her that sleepover with her friends, in a few months, when it's safe to do so. And Grandma has promised her a pet snake and the apparatus to take care of it, too. But she said she felt pretty spoiled, and I believe her.
I spent the evening before my birthday dying my own hair pink (I used Overtone and it went pretty well!). Usually, I get a salon day around my birthday and get a cool color for convention season, and this was my substitute.
Sweetman made me breakfast and left me to eat in alone in my quiet office watching sunlight on my plant and glass window and daydreaming. I usually have to hit the ground running, even on quarantine--schoolwork happens early--so taking the morning slow was a treat.
Then, we went for a walk in my current favorite wooded area, picking up some supersweet coffee treats on the way. The weather was perfect: neither hot nor cold, neither cloudy nor sunny. I laid on a fallen tree trunk for a while, watching clouds and enjoying the sound of wind through the leaves and my girl talking about the bugs she was tracking.
My chosen lunch was takeout from Tacos Los Altos, a local taco truck/restaurant with nice people and awesome food. I splurged on a Mexican coke to go with my tacos. A FaceTime call with my sister so she could see me open her gifts, left for me on a touchless drop off.
Then the hubby and the girl went upstairs to do her school from home activities and let me have the "big TV" to watch the Miss Fisher movie on Acorn, which was fabulous!
Another walk in the late afternoon, a shorter one this time, so I could take the elderly dog with us, this time riverside. Then some writing time while Sweetman fetched my Turkish dinner from Talulla's in downtown Chapel Hill (a favorite date and special occasion restaurant for us), enjoyed with ANOTHER movie (two in one day? what!) with my family and then my raspberry chocolate cake from Weaver Street.
It's the first day in many a moon that I can remember entirely setting the pace myself, based only on what I wanted to do.
My older daughter is quarantined separately, so I'll see her tomorrow for a six-feet-apart walk and talk.
Were these the birthdays we would have had in a non-COVID world? Not a bit.
But were they still good? Definitely.
There are joys in quiet pleasures, too, and at the end of the day, I am relaxed and pleased to have a day that was all my own. What's working for you when you have something to celebrate in quarantine? How are still making these moments feel special?