Thursday, December 25, 2008

birthday greetings

at two weeks old

Birthdays are a strange phenomenon. They imply great significance, for it is the time when each of us hurtled into this human life, on a journey whose real beginnings none of us understand, and for which we often feel ill- equipped to undertake.

My sister Kate's 4th birthday

The first few years of our lives, birthdays are more for the family surrounding us than for ourselves, we really don't know what its about. A home video of me on my first birthday shows me tearing paper off a gift, without any understanding that this was a process leading to a surprise; the paper tearing was clearly exciting enough!

With my mother getting ready for my party

But somewhere in those early years, the magic and pleasure of birthdays seeps in. The specialness, the celebration and excitement. Birthdays are anticipated with excitement and joy, perhaps parties are planned, gifts secreted away from inquisitive eyes. Cake and candles mark the transition of time.

with my father, same day

Further on in our lives, particular birthdays are seen as culturally significant. 18, 21, 30, 40 - these are years where, even if in between there has been little acknowledgement of the date of birth, people will often celebrate the passage of life.
Personally, i have mostly been ambivalent if not cautious about birthdays. Born on Christmas Eve, my special day was buried in the furore and excitement of Santa Claus' visit, and summer holidays. For this reason, my mother chose my great-grandmother's birthday (August 16) as my day of celebration and parties. But even that was more for her gregarious nature than my painfully shy one. I remember so clearly one particular party where I played in the yard on my own for most of the time, feeling overwhelmed by the group. And cutting the cake was a nightmare of spotlight exposure.

picking flowers in our garden on my birthday

My mother wanted me to have a big "Twenty First" as my siblings had had (a significant rite of passage in Australia). I refused, mainly because I was quite rebellious at that time, and refusing any request of my parents was the order of the day. As I have mellowed with age, I am sorry I was not gracious enough to allow her this joy.

Now, having freshly 'turned' 53, birthdays have no great impact. Yet still they mark the passage of time in this life, and of that I am conscious. There is less time ahead than behind. Just as at the moment of birth, I am still uncertain of what this journey will bring or entail.

2 weeks of age. My mother has written on the back "looks very like her". Funny, really, to think there was an idea of me even having an identity or look at that age. Looks like who?

Not me, not any more!


EdaMommy said...

Many happy returns. I myself am grateful for ya. ^_^ Be well, Happy New Year!

Tia said...

I love the picture of you in the little white dress surrounded by all those flowers and trees!