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Walt Whitman, without any dash of humility at all, named one of his better poems, "A Song of Myself". While I do not pretend to the poetic talents of Mr. Whitman, I do understand the sentiment behind his paean to himself. Years ago my kids began to notice that I tended to break up the celebration of my birthday over several days leading up to and following my birthday. Birthday dinner at home one day. Birthday dinner out on another. Celebratory movie and popcorn. Celebratory trip to the mall to buy my birthday present. Anything to stretch things out.
I think it was my son, Micah, who dubbed it Cinco de' Tom and teased me unmercifully about stretching out my birthday fun. I don't care. The last couple of years since I've been in Washington and the economy has been in the dumper, the celebration has become a little skimpier. I don't mind so much.
You see it was never about the size of the party or the number of presents. Good old Mom always come through with a nice present and birthday card for her baby boy and favorite kid, but for the most part, I settle for e-mail greetings and Facebook entries from the kids and Sheila bakes me one of her amazing cakes. I made a vege-Mexican Enchilada Pie in keeping with the fiesta theme this year. When we can afford it, we both treat ourselves to a nice birthday bash in my honor. She has just as much fun as me and, frankly, it would be no fun without her.
I think we should all make a festival out of our birthdays. This year we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and my 59th birthday two weeks apart. I'm planning to save up for a mighty bash next year as it will be our 40th anniversary and I'll officially reach geezerdom when I hit 60 on my next birthday.
I plan to party for the full five days.................while wearing a sombrero!
I deserve it. Mostly Sheila deserves it for putting up with me for this long. You deserve it to, so go ahead and celebrate this year. Make a big deal out of it. It's your milestone. Give yourself a treat and who cares what anyone thinks.
I discovered something about being reticent about birthdays. If you don't make a big deal about it, your loved ones don't know how much you enjoy the parties and then they stop giving you one on the grounds that you must not like it. If you do make a big deal out of your birthday, they rouse themselves to extra effort and throw you a nice birthday bash.
And when they do everybody has fun and how nice is that? Years ago, I learned to my surprise that those who love you actually want to know what makes you happy. If they know, they can do something for you that also makes you happy.
So every year, it's Cinco de' Tom - me spreading happiness (and making out like a bandit on the birthday presents).
That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoe-making and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. -Mark Twain