Even as a child, my birthday was a bit of a mess even though my parents did their best to distance my birthday from Christmas by being sure all the gifts were wrapped in birthday paper instead of Christmas wrap. However, there was no masquerading the tired children dropped off by tapped out parents bringing re-gifts bearing ornaments, wreaths, and in one case, chocolates filled with liquor--no doubt a gift from a generous employer given to a non-drinking employee then re-gifted to a confused, and soon to be drunk nine year old. Needless to say, Christmas birthdays left a lot to be desired during my childhood. Bless my parents hearts, even their one attempt at celebrating my "half birthday" ended up with someone nearly ending up with heat stroke as the temperatures reached record highs that year.
As an adult, my near constant eye-rolling concerning my birthday has reached epic proportions. For so long, I have expected my birthday to be what is has been my entire life: Just a big pain in the neck. Until this year. This year, I made a ridiculous and nonsensical request to my dear Mountain Man, "Let's leave town, but before I do, I want a tambourine."
I know, even the request makes my brows furrow together in confusion.
Here's the gig, traveling with your birthday so stinking close to Christmas is just really code for: let's travel on Christmas and battle long lines for Boxing Day specials while people shove you around and make you mad and test your patience in a way that even Job would cave in to. But why a tambourine? Well, what better instrument to drive home a pointless point, or a ridiculous request, especially on one's birthday? Tambourines by their very mystery and allure reach through all the common sense and magically transport the hearer to new depths of uncommon sense. Let me illustrate:
Situation One: Line too long at your favorite book store and it's your birthday? Pull out that tambourine, make and announcement and watch the line scatter to your request...(I know, I may be delusional.)
Situation Two: Upset your family is taking too long to get ready for church? Simply say, "If you don't hurry up, I will sell you to the gypsies!" Then--THWACK! Tambourine hit, point made that either you hurry up, or you get to listen to me strum my little drum-covered-cymbal-circle with passion for the next few minutes until we are ready to depart. I don't know about you, but I'd hurry it along...
Situation Three: "Hey, I have a great idea! Let's spend all our savings on a trip to Greece for my birthday this year!" Without the tambourine, you find yourself faced with a bunch of head shaking and comments of, "No, that's just not possible this year." With the tambourine, however, your family finds itself completely distracted by your fabulous tambourine playing and merely nod at your request to go to Greece because they can't figure out why you are shaking a tambourine in the first place....if you think about it, it's kind of like charming snakes or lulling animals into a deep sleep...not that I've had experience with either.
Anyway, owning a tambourine has been long on the list of birthday wishes for a while now because it may be the last thing on earth that transforms my birthday from just a big pain in the neck to an actual magical day. And I have to believe that a good birthday exists in my future somewhere. Somewhere, lines will be shorter, tickets will not be sold out and there won't be a soul at my favorite restaurant. I must have hope.
* * *On my "special day" before we left town, I found a beautifully wrapped box sitting on the passenger seat of our car. As I tore the paper from the gift, joy infused my soul, for there lay a drum topped tambourine to help me get whatever I wanted on my birthday. As we drove over the rivers and through the woods, I imagined the many ways I could use it to get the long lines to move faster and people to be nicer. Traveling along, I found myself tapping out a jaunty little tune and Mountain Man driving a little bit faster to get there--or to get away from my tambourine playing...I'm sure I will never know.
That night, standing in a long line at our favorite book store, I broke out my tambourine. I raised myself up to all my almost 6 foot tall wonder and said in a loud and dramatic voice, "You all need to move so I can go to the front of the line because it is my birthday!!! THWHACK!"
Let me tell you, those people moved.
What are your feelings on your birthday? What is your birthday wish?
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