Once you get past, oh say, 21, birthdays stop being special occasions in the traditional sense. They become, in some cases, things that elicit dread or even denial. For me, the worst birthday I ever had came not when I hit thirty or forty or even fifty. It was 31. Don't ask why unless you want a blank stare in response. I have glided through all the big 0 birthdays so far, but when I turned 31, it took me weeks to recover from the depression. Maybe I'm just slow on the uptake.
This year, I hit the big 5-1. That's a year that usually doesn't have a big in front of it, but it really deserved the moniker because of how special other people made it for me. And by other people, I mainly mean my students, though the first card and gift I got were from my parents, of course.
Sometimes a kid will figure out from my user name for practically everything (trainguy917) that my birthday is September 17 and they'll wish me a happy birthday or even occasionally get me a card. But not since 2005, a school year that I refer to as my Golden Era (that's a whole other post), has my birthday been such an Occasion. And it lasted the whole day.
It started when I walked into my room to be greeted by streamers, balloons, and the entire Student Council singing happy birthday to me. Keep in mind that this group only meets in my room--I'm not their advisor, though several of them are my students. I was sung to three more times, once each by my two lunch bunches and once by a lovely young lady who just sang to me because she's a sweetheart.
Speaking of lunch bunches, they got me a toy train, a build-it-yourself wooden train locomotive, a teacher survival kit full of delicious goodies, and two unbelievably decadent homemade cookie cakes. There were even party hats and noisemakers.
And throughout the day, it seemed like literally every one of my students, as well as several teachers and even students who weren't mine, wished me a happy birthday. And to top all that off, the greetings on Facebook were nonstop. Add to this texts from the three people who have come as close as I have ever gotten to actually having daughters, along with my siblings, and it was awfully close to the greatest birthday I ever had.
I guess that if there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it's that we're never too old for magic to happen in our lives. And nine times out of ten that magic occurs because we're surrounded with the right people.
So who knows; maybe I'm in the midst of my Golden Era version 2.0.