It happens to all of us, once a year: a birthday. For me, that’s today.
I gave up celebrating the day years ago. Maybe my increased cynicism working in the news business in Los Angeles and San Francisco soured me on such maudlin commemorations, or perhaps there didn’t seem to be much to celebrate.
Oh, I know. If I was there, it meant that I had survived another year. I was, in fact, alive.
So on the one hand, yes, of course. I was – am – alive and grateful for it.
But as for celebrating – cake, candles, cards and gifts – uh, no.
I’d come to see that it was another of those days that merchants love – florists sell blooms, confectioners sell sweets, stores sell all kinds of clothing and gadgets and jewelers get in on the act, with beautiful baubles.
And of course, the greeting card manufacturers are right there with a whole variety of printed messages – from icky “love you” cards to the now popular snide funnies.
Actually, I like funnies best. If I’m going to get a letter in the mail, how nice for it to be one that makes me laugh. A good laugh is all I want! And, NO, e-mail doesn’t substitute. I get enough really funny e-mail jokes from my WND readers and my radio program listeners!
Oh, OK, I know, a birthday celebrates the passage of another year – survival, no matter what happened during those weeks and months, good and bad.
Yes, today is my day, and while my immediate family persists in remembering it – my specific request has been, no party, no celebration and no big gifts. They’ve grudgingly agreed.
Truth be known, my desire not to celebrate my birthday has nothing to do with age. I just see it as another day, and as time passed, I’m more convinced of that.
With each passing year, I look back on the world as it was when I was young and compare it to what we’re burdened with today. I see ever more clearly the changes and what they mean to our daily survival.
Americans have had the benefits and blessings of what has been a vibrant and successful economy, protected by the parameters and structure of the Constitution.
I admit that as a child and young person, I took all that for granted. Despite the ramifications of politics locally and nationally, I assumed that we had things right in this country and it would only get better and we would survive.
My father was a “first generation” immigrant and my mother a “second.” Both took their civic responsibilities seriously, and for years, that “smoke-filled political room” was our dining room. Both my parents were involved in local, county and state politics and regularly griped about the patronage, the crooks and the cheats, as well as the stolen votes.
My mother was personally responsible for getting voting machines in our county, believing there would be less voter fraud.
How naive that was!
I learned just by listening to those people. Little by little, my own political beliefs and values were developed.
Interestingly enough, although I didn’t realize it then, I was becoming a conservative while my parents were FDR Democrats – Depression babies – although eventually, Daddy became an independent because he was so fed up with the Democrat dealings. Mom hung in there, but even she eventually became disillusioned with the political status quo.
Over time, the country endured wars and political infighting and dramatic social change. Racial politics reared its ugly head and radically changed the culture. It’s not the world of my childhood.
But the good life continued with new inventions and devices that made daily life easier.
My parents’ generation could never have imagined central heating and air conditioning, refrigerators and freezers, vacuum cleaners, televisions and movies and computers, cars with automatic transmissions, supermarkets with thousands of products, a pill for just about anything and a medical system that meant people could live longer and vaccines that meant our children wouldn’t die of measles or polio or scarlet fever.
Despite the economic ups and downs and the terrible situation we now find ourselves in with unemployment and inflation and a government growing more powerful and invasive, we generally still have almost everything we want and need.
Especially now that we’re facing the reality that our American lifestyle is changing dramatically, and perhaps permanently, my decision not to celebrate seems even more sensible.
I don’t “need” anything. I have more things in my attic and garage than I like to admit. I know I’ve inherited from my parents the tendency to “save” things, and my main personal goal at this point should be to empty the closets!
I’m not a survivalist politically, but I see more and more that it’s probably not a bad idea to travel light because none of us has any real idea of what’s in store and it’s not a bad idea to be prepared.
I’m not a Scout, but their motto makes sense.
However, I will confess that last year, despite all my demands that I not get any birthday presents, one of my daughters disobeyed me and sent me what every sane adult should have – a complete drum kit!
When I asked her why she did that, she simply said, “Mom, you always said you wanted to play the drums. So now you can!”
How could I argue? And secretly, I love it!
Buddy Rich I’m not, but I’m never too old to dream!