Having a birthday at the beginning of December means that there’s rarely been a year when I haven’t been in school, work, or university. On the other hand, I knew everything would be different this year regardless of that.
It almost felt wrong. My Gran, a woman who had always played an important role in all my birthdays, was now gone. My parents and my brother, who had also always gone out of their way to make sure I had a memorable birthday despite being in school, were in the UK. My friends are scattered across both the UK and Spain and I was wondering if it was possible for my 21st birthday to be any more different.
My friends insisted that we celebrate it somehow, and when Alice suggested that we go out for a meal I agreed, thinking it would be nice to spend time with the girls after a long day of work. This sounds like it was the most depressing birthday ever from the way I’ve written this so far, but I assure you it was far from sad.
The morning arrived, I FaceTimed my parents and opened my cards in front of them as if nothing was different. Dad uploaded his yearly embarrassing but somewhat cute photos onto Facebook and this year Mum decided to join in too. With a hashtag. I’m still convinced that they spent the entire drive up to York plotting and scheming. I ate scrambled eggs out of a bowl because I forgot to buy bread and dragged myself to school.
Upon arrival, there were some gifts and a card on my desk to greet me. My teachers were all enthusiastic and wished me happy birthday, giving me a beautiful bracelet and some chocolates, and they’d all signed a card too. My classes sang to me too, while I stood awkwardly at the front of the class, unsure how to take it all in. Nothing was taken too seriously and I returned to my flat with a smile on my face.
My friends were just as enthusiastic. I was showered in thoughtful gifts, love and Mr Marvellous’s wonderful Frizzante. We deliberated over a curiously extravagant pizza menu and had a giggle like we always do.
Sometimes birthdays are special for different reasons, and it’s okay for things to change.