I love birthdays. Birthdays and middle names. They’re the two most important things you can know about a person.
This is another example of one of my pointless theories. I like middle names and birthdays because I’m good at remembering names and dates and remembering someone’s first name never wins you any medals. I also really like birthdays because they’re occasions for celebration – plus I throw a mean surprise party.
But before I could throw surprise parties, my mom threw them for me. We have three decorative “Happy Birthday Banners” that have been hung out for every birthday for every family member for as long as I can remember. One of the birthday traditions growing up involved taking the birthday boy or girl out to dinner at a restaurant of their choice. And of course, we got to pick what kind of cake we wanted.
Then there was the way of celebrating with our friends. We invited our friends over for a few hours of playing, crafts, puppet shows, games, and any other fun thing you could think of to occupy a bunch of little kids on a sugar rush. But my favorite thing about my little kid birthday was the presents.
Yup. I loved present time.
Because each year for my birthday, rather than asking for the latest toy, gadget, or gizmo, I asked for cat litter and paper towels.
Yup. Cat litter.
Every year, my mom and I would go on the website of my local humane society and print the wish list of items they were in desperate need of. We included that in the invitation and asked that instead of gifts, people bring a donation to the humane society. I’d sit at my table and open dog food and cat nip and excitedly smile for the camera while holding a box of biscuits.
Then, in a week or so, after the birthday excitement died down, my mom and I would load the car and make the 30 minute trek to the humane society. I lived for this trip because they always let me play with the dogs.
I was a pint-sized kid who realized how easily I could capitalize on the opportunity of a day that was about me. I could use it to help others.
I turn 22 on Friday (May 20). And I’m ready to be back at it again. Stay tuned.