Every morning we wake up, with the renewed possibility of doing, learning, singing and loving more, than yesterday. During our individual journeys, we take little steps, that deserve kudos – or big milestones, that deserves a big slap on the back!
However old we become, however high we rise, we still like to believe in the celebrations of life and its eternal mysteries.
Celebration of birthdays has always been a big deal in my family – much more so than any particular religious rites or rituals; I remember my childhood birthday parties; elaborate with balloons and delicious cakes, hide-and-go-seek games and pinning-the-tail on the donkey. My favorite birthday present was, when my uncles or aunts came to visit us, in our far-away hill-top residences of Chittgaong.
Since my first-born’s first year, we agreed that birthdays take way too long to return, and we wanted to celebrate her life, more often. Hence, we created “half-birthdays” and started celebrating! They have never been an elaborate affair. Sometimes it’s a just a small cake or a nice dinner wherever the birthday girl desires. Sometimes we had friends or family to celebrate with us. Last year, for my seven-year old’s half birthday, we built a cardboard castle that she and her friends had the best time decorating – while their parents and I had the opportunity to sip some good wine and make an evening of it.
This year, I told Daiyaan, that since she turns 18 next year, this is her last “half-birthday” as a before she turns an “adult”. I make a reservation at a decent Asian fusion restaurant in Las Olas and invite a couple of her best friends to join us.
About half-way through the day of the actual intended celebration, I get a text from her that she really doesn’t want to go out tonight and doesn’t want me to spend the money on a fancy dinner; I respond with a 😦 sad face symbol) . I remember her first half-birthday at Merrimac lane – with her Godparents (Abdul and Fazilah) and a cake!
As the day progresses, we keep chatting, and I realize that something has changed her mind and I guess our dinner is back on schedule.
We enjoy a wonderful dinner, filled with Sashimi, Sushi, Asian style tapas and green-tea ice-cream, On the way back home I ask Daiyaan, what made her change her mind, to help us celebrate this occassion.
That afternoon, she got a text from one of her closest friends, that the doctors have told their family that this is most likely their Dad’s last holiday season with them.
Hearing that, my daughter, on her own, realizes how important celebrations are and that, just because we can celebrate together now, is no longer a “given”, every year.
One cannot force a celebration on anyone. But it is important to recognize every day, that it can be a new beginning – a new life.
The fact that we have lived another “half-year” – I believe, is worthy of celebration. It doesn’t have to be a “super-duper” expensive party – with gifts and champagne. It can be a simple dinner, where we sit back and acknowledge the true gifts of our lives and simply look forward to enjoying every day and every night of the future.
Life, is too short to miss ‘Half Birthdays’!