Birthday Guilt

Imagine sitting under a large shade tree in the best part of Fall.  Leaves are gently fluttering to the ground, one by one.  Suddenly, a gust of crisp air sweeps many leaves to the ground in a flurry of activity.  A few more leaves settle gently down, and peace is restored, though one more branch is now barren.  Cycle of life, if you’re watching trees through the seasons.

Now, as though in a dream, or perhaps imagine yourself as Alice in Wonderland…  each of those branches is a month, and each leaf a calendar page.  Some pages (leaves) are highlighted to represent a special date for someone you really care about, but each of the leaves will fall in their turn.  Except when many fall all at once.

This has been my experience, nearly always.  Most recently, I remembered a July birthday in February….and again in March… I wouldn’t miss my friend’s birthday this year – after 30+ years and her faithfulness to remember me, I wouldn’t blow it, not this year.  A familiar promise, I’ve made it about 5 years in a row now.  Mid-June, still too soon, but it’s on the radar.  We’ve arrived at mid-July, and of course, I missed it.  A gust of life came along and swept too many calendar pages off their branch in a single shot.

Come October, there will be a package in my mailbox, as always, because my friend never misses my birthday.  Enter the guilt.  I log into Facebook every few days or so, and the collection of comments invariably reminds me that I missed another friend’s birthday, and another.  Today, I have an opportunity to say “Happy Birthday” on the right day, but will our mutual friends with recent birthdays feel I rank them as less?  Increase the guilt.  Well meaning loved ones call me, because they know how my world works, and they remind me there’s an impending birthday… They try, bless them, and yet if they don’t tell me of their own birthdays, I’ll miss those (just did, actually). 

Let’s go back to the image of the tree….  Some will diligently write all they need for each day on its proper ‘leaf’.  Some will climb the tree with the sunrise each morning, grab that leaf and establish their day by its content.  Others, like me, gaze in every direction but up, not seeing the leaves until they are blown past our eyes.  We occasionally look at the colors strewn across the field, only to discover to our chagrin that some of those are birthdays.  We may (or not) follow up with a ‘belated’ card, since the card companies have discovered enough people like me to make a market.

So, my beloved friends, I do care…  I do pray for you, remember you fondly, and will do something special:  I’ll send a card or note on not-your-birthday, when everyone else isn’t doing so 🙂  I may even forget the timing in such a way as to accidentally send a card on your birthday for once – but don’t bet your branch on it.