Every year, I look forward to my birthday. It is a day I validate myself (刷存在感). My insecurity often pushed me to count how many birthday wishes I received, even though I think it is stupid to do so. I also await my husband, Asher, to do something great for me. Most of these birthdays ended up in disappointment because no matter how many birthday wishes I received, there will be this internal feeling that it is not enough. Then the day just ended. It ended empty inside. The day did not fulfil the anticipated exhilaration. In some years, Asher just casually (last minute see which restaurant is available) bring me out for a meal and the day wound up without a card (a minimum expectation I have of Asher) and I cried. In fact, one year, I bawled.
However, this year was different. Somehow, I had no expectations. It wasn't that people's care don't matter anymore but maybe I have subconsciously disassociated my value with people's care or lack of care. Perhaps I was distracted by my other internal rollercoaster and my insecurity paled. Perhaps there is a greater awareness that birthdays signify another year older (and I am beginning to dislike the unalterable fact that I am aging.) In any case, this year is one birthday that I feel (not in past tense because I am still feeling it) so wrapped in love.
Asher decided to celebrate my birthday all weekend, instead of one single day, starting on Friday evening. Every day, he planned a place to bring me that we have never been before. Usually, I would like a little more control by asking where he is taking me (so I know what to wear) or what food we are having (tasty food to me is key to a date). However, this time, I thought maybe I should extend my husband the care I offer to youth. In order to encourage youth, whatever initiative they have, as long as it is not immoral or have dire consequences, I will support and go along. This way, the youth would be more motivated to suggest things and take actions. It occured to me that maybe I need to be nurturing to my husband as well. So I just dressed up and went along to wherever he planned. All the venues he chose were enjoyable and the food were delicious. So instead of anticipation towards a single day, before my expectations could build, my birthday celebration began. Without any expectations, every day was satisfying.
Besides birthday wishes, throughout the actual day (Monday), friends sent breakfast, lunch, and pre-lunch (for us to curb hunger because the delivery person delayed), cupcakes, cheese cakes and my parents bought me a cake (Every year Asher arranges a cake cutting session with my parents to continue a childhood tradition). The day ended with a Zoom chat with a group of buddies and a "surprise" card from Asher (I found it on the bedside when I was about to sleep). All in all, it was a lovely day!
However, birthday celebration did not end on Monday! My colleagues tried to send lunch on Monday but the store slipped up and it was changed to next day dinner. Hence, birthday celebration extended to Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, another friend specially travelled to my house to deliver her homemade peach gum. I had thought that she happened to be in the neighbourhood only to realise that she took a bus over just to give me a belated birthday treat. Later in the afternoon, someone sent a Starbucks drink and dessert as another belated birthday treat! So our fridge is filled with all the sweet treats that I can munch on all week. I feel surrounded by love all week.
It is ironic that when I crave for love, it feels so lacking. When I am enough inside, I am more loved and I feel more loved. Birthday celebration became all week long instead of one day. Every birthday wish that I read over text or social media feels more heartfelt than a number I was counting. Perhaps we shortchange ourselves when we dwell in our insecurities. When we accept ourselves more fully and embrace how God has made us, we love and receive love more freely. As I age, I began to realise that birthdays are more meaningful to a child's parents than the child. It is a celebration of a life they brought to earth and a celebration that they managed to feed and grow the child well. I thank God for all the love of friends and family sent to me this birthday. I thank God for creating me and the way I am. I hope in the days ahead, I can more fully embrace who He has created me to be and how He has ordained my days to be that I may be a blessing to Him and others.