Birthday overload, 1963

Birthday overload, 1963

No, this is not a plea for a case of wine (though that would be thoughtful and appreciated). Next week is my birthday, never mind which one. About a month ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for my special day. I immediately requested a case of cat food.

Yes, cat food. Four of my best friends are cats and I like to let them in on the celebration. There’s an extra-groovy kind of wet food that they absolutely adore, but it doesn’t come cheap. Especially when you factor in the shipping.

I became an undying fan of this particular product years ago, when our now late and lamented tortoise cat, Arial, started turning up her nose at her dinner. Dollar upon dollar of national-brand wet food was drying up in her dish and it was driving me crazy. Desperate, I scoured the shelves of Port Townsend’s Food Co-op and landed on Natural Value. It was seventy-five cents a can back then but Arial gobbled it up and none of it was wasted. I even considered trying some myself (kidding!).

Arial was pampered with Natural Value wet food for the rest of her life, but now, with four feline mouths to feed, a steady diet of the stuff is no longer affordable. Except for my birthday.

Birthdays are awkward for me, not because I’m getting older but because receiving special attention and gifts brings out the shy person inside. No matter what I’ve achieved during the year, I feel stunningly undeserving of this type of personal fanfare. Think about it: the fact that I was born was my parents’ achievement, not mine. Maybe I’d be more comfortable if Mom received gifts instead of me? (Hint: she doesn’t have a cat so wine would be the better choice.)

I don’t have this problem when I’m acknowledged for other things. If you tell me you love my writing, I feel humbled and pleased. If someone thanks me for a kindness, I feel warm inside. But birthdays- – gheez! Is there something big enough for me to hide under, now that I’m a grownup?

Fortunately, I have friends and family who ignore my desire to withdraw. My birthday is still a few days away and already I’m receiving packages in the mail. There’s a box wrapped in brown paper on the Kitchen Queen that bears a suspicious case-of-cat-food-shape and some other things the cats helped my husband wrap with it. I truly appreciate everyone’s thoughtfulness, but aw, shucks, it’s just me, you guys! You’re the ones who deserve the gifts and praise because you’re the ones who make my life a joy.

Thanks, in advance, for fifty-seven years of it.

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