Culver City Observer -

Happy Birthday To Me


October 6, 2016

I love celebrating birthdays.

Do you like to celebrate yours?

Some people love birthdays. They look forward to their birthday and wake up feeling happy. There are also people who don’t rejoice on their birthday; for them, it’s not a day they want to mark. They just want to get past it.

I’ve seen that some of the people who don’t like birthdays haven’t really had a lot of happy birthday experiences.

I once learned that a person dear to me didn’t expect any joy on her birthday. So I ordered a special cake, and gave her a little surprise birthday party. The surprise was: she cried. I asked why.

“Nobody ever gave me a birthday party before.”

She was in her 70’s. She had never had a birthday cake with her name on it!

Isn’t it surprising, the things some of us take for granted?

Who are these people who get wonderful birthday cakes? And parties, and presents? It’s not required to be in the top 1%, after all; everyone can celebrate a birthday.

I used to know someone who chose to spend his birthdays alone. Each year, he picked a new thing to do, something he had never done before. He’d decided to accumulate a lifetime of new experiences by choosing inventive ways to spend the day, to learn things, to go somewhere he’d never been. One year, he went to a museum he’d wanted to visit; one year, he did one of those “experience” things, except he created it for himself. He could tell you where, and how, he’d spent recent birthdays. Could you do that?

Life’s short. My theory is, it’s important for each of us to celebrate the good things, because enough things happen that we can’t control. Choosing to make a happy occasion of your birthday adds an entry in the positive column of one’s life. We need to take every chance we get to make ourselves happy.

I have a friend who celebrates by going skiing every year, which she loves. She celebrates alone, and feels happy.

Do you look at Facebook happy birthday wishes? Some people have 200 or 300 Happy Birthday messages on their wall. It makes you feel good, I guess, to see all those good wishes.

A friend told me his girlfriend had a “fake Facebook birthday.” She feared giving any personal info online, so created what she called her fake internet birthday. Was she sad, then, when no one posted good wishes on her real birthday?

I thought that might be a good idea as protection against identity theft, so sometimes, when myriad websites ask my birthday, I write “April 1.” Makes me smile.

I’m the only one I know who celebrates my half-birthday. I got the idea when a boyfriend’s birthday was exactly six months after mine; we each also celebrated the other person’s half-birthday. I still do that, and it makes me smile. Anything you can do that makes you smile is good.

Did you know that September 16 is the most common birthday in the U.S.? (Harvard University study)

On one special birthday Jessica Savitch gave me a surprise birthday party on a boat. I loved having so many people from different parts of my life together. Her invitation said, “Carole Bell is sailing into her birthday.” How lovely!

A few years ago, I was in Paris for my birthday. I’d noticed the Eiffel Tower newly glittering when I arrived; my taxi driver said, “ce scintille” (it scintillates), at every hour on the hour. Scintillating was le mot juste, I thought; it sparkled. Later that night, just before my birthday, walking in the street, I asked my friend, “What time is it?” wanting to know if it were my birthday yet. The answer came like magic: the tower began sparkling at midnight. Charming surprise, the Eiffel Tower was scintillating (for me!) I giggled, thinking fancifully, “Ask not for whom the tower glows; it scintillates for thee”.

I used to give a birthday party every year. I’d been afraid to do that the first time. I decided to be brave, to embrace life. In a new city, I’d asked a friend-of-a-friend where to buy a cake. I told her it was the first time I’d bought a birthday cake for myself. Hearing that, she said, “Oh, how sad, to have to buy your own birthday cake.”

It didn’t feel sad; it made me happy. The party was wonderful.

I continued the tradition. Then the question: what to write on the cake? I decided to be gutsy, and write what I really wished: “à la passion et à la joie”

One year a friend I invited said she wanted to give me a special present. Yvonne sold real estate and was a part-time belly dancer. She said she would like to give me a gift of dancing at my party. Her 10-year-old son came, and to my surprise he operated the CD player for music. I’d never seen much belly dancing, nor imagined it could be like that. It must have been some higher upper-class level of belly dancing; Yvonne was thin, and the dancing lovely. The way I felt about myself then, I wanted to be the kind of woman who would have a belly dancer at her own birthday party. And I was!

I kind of formatted the party. A champagne bowl, with strawberries, welcomed people (a German recipe from a friend). I started off having food, but distilled it over the years to just desserts and cake. I learned lessons; people kept offering to bring things, and one year I let them. My dining table was transformed into a gorgeous buffet of desserts, homemade and store-bought. The lesson? People were happy to contribute, and liked it better than when I supplied everything. Good lesson to learn.

I discovered that people from different backgrounds could mesh so well; if you find them interesting, your other friends will too. It’s wonderful – having a lot of people you know and care about in one place at the same time.

And I love the chance to make a wish. Wherever I am, I look for a way to get a candle to make that birthday wish. How many chances do you have to do that? Even if the candle sits in a non-traditional food, it makes me happy. Don’t be embarrassed to do that; make that birthday wish. Make it count!

In the UK The Queen sends you a birthday card for your 100th birthday. Something to aspire to!

My mother used to call me on my birthday at the same hour I was born. I could always count on that. The other day someone told me her mother used to do that too. So she started calling her mother first each birthday before her mother could call her. She told me she says, “Thank you for creating me.”

This birthday is going to be a challenge, coming on a day of thoughtfulness and repentance and mourning.

My birthday’s next Tuesday. I’m looking forward to it.


©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

You can write to her at:


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