I am the one that remembers the dates of our family members’ birthdays. Even the extended family. Why? Because my birthday is very important to me. That day is exclusively mine. I think of the children at the schools who often wear crowns or tiaras on their special day. Many times, the crowns have been made out of construction paper by the hands of some loving teacher.
Birthdays. This is a time for celebrations because we have been graced with another year of life. When we see so many of our family members and friends passing on, we learn to take nothing for granted. Another year added to the tick count is truly a blessing.
In my family, five out of six people were born in the month of September. Mine comes first. This year, me and one of my sisters went out and listened to a live band. They sang and played music that we grew up on and we really enjoyed ourselves. As many of the songs took us back down memory lane, I danced in my seat.
Next, my father’s birthday came and I spent it in quiet reflection as I worked on a writing project. He would have liked seeing me focused. This would coincide with his strong work ethic and innovative thinking.
Then, my sister and my mother’s shared birthday rolled around. On that day, I traveled to my sister’s home and she acted as the Dee-jay. She chose the music and I danced. I periodically looked over at my mother’s picture on the mantle and felt that she had also joined the party. I danced as Prince said “like it was 1999.”
In Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, Avey, the main character sees some of the elders in a shuffle-like dance which was a form of ritual and healing. “She remembers the jubilant Ring Shouts she and her great aunt would watch from across the street, and the people did as they shouted their praises” (Praisesong for the Widow-Summary).
Later, Avey joins in the dance. She realizes that she needs to heal after the recent loss of her husband.“She goes, and is so nurtured and welcomed, so nursed out of her pent up pain, that she rediscovers her ability to dance, and in so doing, reconnects with her own lost heritage, dedicating herself to passing it along to her own descendants, just as her great aunt had passed the stories on to her” (Praisesong for the Widow-Summary).
Dance can be a form of celebration, ritual or rite of passage. ““Many styles of dance are characteristic all our cultures past and present, not only as a form of relaxation or entertainment, but they also constitute part of important ceremonies, rituals and rites of passage.” (Wikipedia)
Birthday celebrations are truly rites of passage. A birthday allows us to look both ways down the avenue of life. We can look back to where we have been or we can look forward to where we are ready to go.
My oldest sister’s birthday is the last family celebration of the month. I took a short trip to spend time with her. We put candles on a cupcake and allowed her to blow them out. She also played a variety of music from her bed and I danced. I relaxed and entertained at the same time. We both rejoiced during our rites of passage as we creep up the numerical ladder in age.
She had creatively posted these words on her wall. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” This spoke volumes to me and I decided to tweet those words, as well.
This September, I have decided to claim the entire month as my celebration month. I have danced, shopped and traveled. I even attended a ballet which is one of the most exquisite forms of dance.
Birthday bashes are nice during those years when all things fall together. But, a birthday is a birthday whether it is spent in quiet reflection or out amongst others. They mark new beginnings and remind us of how special we are to our loved ones. We can see how far we have come, as we look ahead expecting more new and wonderful things in the future.
How did you celebrate your last birthday?
Lynn September 25, 2014