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On Birthdays and Rejoicing

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I celebrated forty-five years on this planet in January. It got me thinking about the meaning of birthday celebrations. Interestingly, celebrations are, at least in the word's original sense, something rather public. Something formal we do for others: a ceremony.

My celebration was informal and private. I mean, we had friends over, sure. But what I loved about this particular birthday is that it included exactly what I wanted, exactly how I wanted it. It wasn’t something I performed for others.

If this isn’t a formal marking of time (I celebrated before and after, but not really on my birth day) and it isn’t public, what is it precisely that was a celebration? 

In Hebrew, the word for celebration can also be translated as rejoicing. That is a much better fit. To rejoice means to be filled with joy, but specifically for the things we have. In other words, it’s a grateful joy. 

And so, here are some of the things I’m grateful to have as I commence my forty-sixth turn around the sun, in no particular order.

  1. My partner, Guy. He’s my rock, my safe base, a true partner in this adventure called life.

  2. A healthy, strong body that does what I ask it to (most of the time).

  3. Young people whom I love and who are happy, healthy and safe.

  4. My office, a vase of flowers on my desk, shelves of books and a reading corner.

  5. The privilege to spend my days writing, reading, and caring for the people I love.

  6. Being alive in this strange and beautiful world, and moreover, living in London, which I find an enthralling city.

  7. Food on the table and a warm home.

  8. No air raids sirens or bombings in this part of the world.

  9. Running water in the house–hot and cold! And plumbing!

  10. Modern medicine, including vaccines, ibuprofen, and epidurals.

  11. Air travel, allowing me to get to parts of the world I barely dared dream of.

  12. Coffee.

  13. Wine.

  14. Books.

  15. Good friends who know me, and buy me books and kitchen gadgets for my birthday.

  16. The rain that makes this country green and lush, even if it means wet socks, which I dislike.

  17. A dryer to dry my wet socks.

  18. Sunshine some days. And see #10 for when I need a dose of sunshine.

  19. The changing of the seasons, keeping the world interesting.

  20. Music.

  21. The inspiration to tell stories.

  22. Being who I am, the good and the bad, the creativity and the anxiety and everything in between.

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