Another birthday, another year to reflect on everything I haven’t yet achieved.
When did birthdays become so depressing? As a kid, I loved birthdays: cake, presents, themed parties. Now? I somehow don’t think I could get away with a Peter Pan themed party, complete with throwing fairy dust (glitter) on the party attendees, crafting little Tinkerbells to hang above our beds, and eating cake shaped like Captain Hook’s hook. As a kid, I was so sure that I would never grow up. Unfortunately Never-Never Land never opened its doors to me.
So, how do you make the best of birthdays as an adult? Sure, you could have a party with some friends in a bar… if you like bars (or alcohol for that matter). Sometimes it’s just easier to do something small with your loved ones and be done with it. And sometimes your loved ones do something for you that actually makes your birthday worthwhile…
It started a couple of years ago when my husband awoke to a barrage of birthday wishes posted to his Facebook wall in honor of his birthday. Only they weren’t the usual wishes a person our age might expect to receive… “Happy birthday! I wish you a pink pony with sparkles,” “I hope you get a race car and a T-rex for your birthday,” etc. etc. This year for my birthday, he decided to involve our friends in a little pick-me-up challenge.
Early in the morning I received the following text message from a friend (random initials will be used):
FH: Did I ever tell you how strategically right your spot is in [synagogue]? Thought of it this morning. Well done Anna, you rock!
I thought it was a bit of a strange compliment to be receiving, but sure, why not? I responded:
Me: You should use it in good health!
My day continued normally until an hour later when I received another text message from a different friend:
FN: I’ve never told you this before, but you seem to walk very accurately and well. How do you do that? I’ve always meant to ask you.
I was a bit taken aback by yet another strange compliment, and my response echoed that:
Me: Um… weird compliment, but thank you. I have no idea.
Then I checked my email and saw a number of emails from friends entitled things along the lines of, “Random Thought” or “Why Anna is Great.” I knew something was up, and decided to have more fun with my responses…
NX: Just wanted to say you have a great smile and you made an amazing pregnant hobbit!
Me: You should see the smile on the little Hobbit I gave birth to! What a smush!
HJ: You’re very good at not falling off cliffs. You’re also very good at taking photos. You’re very good at taking photos while not falling off cliffs.
Me: I put it down to 10 years of gymnastics. Nothing like 10 years of gymnastics to establish good balance… and good photography skills…?
TD: I have never eaten a potato kugel as delicious as yours! You are quite a talented woman.
Me: Thank you, but it’s actually my mother-in-law’s recipe, and she ran a catering business for some time. Nevertheless, I am quite a talented woman!
More emails and text messages trickled in throughout the morning. Around noon, however, things picked up. For a solid 15 minutes or so, my phone was beeping every 10 seconds with another compliment. Some were serious, some were silly, and some were downright ridiculous. All in all it did wonders to cheer me up, and I want to thank everyone who responded to my husband’s secret request to send me compliments for my birthday. Those of you who wrote serious ones, you’ve done wonders to boost my self-esteem. And to those of you who wrote craziness, well, I had fun thinking of things to write back. You kept me on my toes. Thank you!
And now to reward your kindness, here are some of the compliments I received that deserve special mention:
TX: I’ve always been impressed with how well you tap dance during the amida (the silent prayer that is meant to be said standing with your feet together)!
Me: Are you implying that I don’t stand with my feet together? #complementfail
FT: …I’m grateful to have such a long-lasting friend like you who makes me seem so cool (Nerd Day will always be yesterday).
Me: Behind every cool person is an awesome nerd.
JN: Anna, every time you transform into a dinosaur, literally nothing can get in your way. I’m glad you’re on our side.
Me: Thank you, but I ate a friend last time I got hungry.
JN: Well, you do turn into a tyr-Anna-saurus. Sometimes that happens.
BC: Hi Anna, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. That is all.
Me: Thanks! I enjoy writing! In fact, you just inspired me to write a blog post about this.
DI: If I was chieftain of a clan of bookish warriors, I would grant you a land charter and make you the laird.
Me: NICE! I always wanted to be laird over bookish warriors!
FS: It suddenly struck me how lovely your feet are. Good morning.
Me: Thank you! It means a lot to me. I have a hard time concealing my hooves.
MD: You are a great writer, and know all the lyrics to Hatikva! You also have a rhyming email address which makes you awesome! (Even if I don’t like banananas)
Me: Did you ever stop to think that maybe “banananas” don’t like you?
CA: Anna, I love how quirky you get when you start talking about Ewoks. 😀
Me: They’re living Teddy bears!!!
ES: Hi Anna! I just wanted to thank you for your smile! It is spectacular! And your nose. I like that too 🙂
Me: Thanks! My nose likes you too. In fact, it’s so big that it encompasses enough love for the whole world!
ES: Haha! You don’t have a big nose. Just a big heart.
ES: Hey Anna, I was just thinking how nice and encouraging you are, especially getting your baby girl to like me and telling me I’m good with kids. You’re a good mom and a good friend.
Me: Aw! Thanks! So sweet! (But really it’s all you. She likes shiny things.)
ES: I am shiny! New pickup line!
BT: Dear Anna, I like how when I’m feeling like a kooky person, you just play along. I also like that, when I’m not feeling like a kooky person, you still act like a kooky person. Just to keep me on my toes. Happy Birfday!
Me: Thanks! But when are you ever not in a kooky mood?
SA: I really like your grumpy voice (sometimes accompanied by foot stomping). It always makes me laugh.
Me: I think you have me confused with one of your kids.
SA: Their grumpy faces make me laugh too.
NL (male): Hi Anna. Just wanted to let you know that you have amazing eyebrows. Slim, long, well colored… I wish we could all be as lucky as you! O, and happy birthday!!
Me: Aw, shucks, I’m blushing! (And don’t let my husband hear you talking like that!)
DM: You draw eyes really well.
Me: Dude, I suck at drawing. It’s like you don’t even know me
DM: Wait, this is Anna, right?
Me: Yep. 4 years of art school and I can’t draw.
DM: Che che che. Good one. Maybe you don’t think you can. But you can.
Me: Have you ever seen me draw eyes?
DM: Yes. I’ve been watching you… Drawing eyes… While you sleep…
Me: Creepy… but cool! I have a sleep talent!
ET (male): Hi Anna, I just had a totally random thought that I figured to share with you – I have to say that you make some really lovely jewelry. I still remember that amazingly gorgeous necklace you wore to [event]. Wow. seriously. someone around here has some serious skill, aaaaaaand I’m pretty sure it is you.
Me: Thanks! I know you’d love to have some pretty jewelry yourself so you can be a pretty pretty princess. Come here and maybe I’ll make you something!
ZT: Dearest Anna, I just thought you should know that you make mac n’ cheese / a.k.a. orgasmic fettuccine alfredo like a fiend. Oh and you make beautiful babies too.
Me: Thanks! Just imagine how delicious my baby would be covered in fettuccine alfredo!
NT: Your toes are like Hungarian dumplings and you love life!
Me: That sounds yummy! I’ll go stick my foot in my mouth. Thanks!
SQ: It is really nice to know someone who is a fantastically talented graphic designer and who can drink with her foot!
Me: Thanks! I am really talented!
SB: Your shirts always look very good on you. Pre, post and during pregnancy, you always look very put together.
Me: Honestly, that’s the first time anyone’s complimented my wardrobe.