The perfect birthday celebration

When I was to turn 50, much fuss was made about what present I would like. I replied that what I’d really like was to spend the weekend doing stuff that I enjoyed, because I’ve long shared birthday celebrations with my mother whose birthday is just 2 days before mine. So, my family all agreed to pool their money and give it to my then long-time boyfriend, who would use it to pay for my chosen birthday outing.

I carefully made plans for a weekend in London, starting with browsing around my favourite book store – Daunt Books – famed for its vast selection of travel related reads. Located in my favourite part of London (Marylebone), I was able to take my time wandering around the streets laden with gorgeous shops, each entirely individual and with not a chain in sight. When I finally got to Daunt, I made copious notes of books I would order later (so we didn’t have to cart them around with us), although I did purchase just one small paperback which fit into my handbag. We finished the day with dinner at the fine dining restaurant of New Zealander Peter Gordon – known for his fusion style food – where everything was absolutely exquisite. We stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel in Notting Hill which I’d taken pains to select, and spent the next day wandering around a couple of modern art and design galleries. That evening we hot-footed it to Ronnie Scotts (the jazz club in Soho) where we enjoyed a meal and a live performance from the Kyle Eastwood band (yes, Clint’s boy). My daughter and her then boyfriend, now husband, joined us there, as that had been my daughter’s contribution to planning my perfect weekend.

Except it wasn’t entirely perfect…

When he went to withdraw cash to pay for taxis and stuff, my boyfriend discovered he didn’t have sufficient funds in his account to complete the withdrawal (nor funds to pay for anything else, if taken to its logical conclusion). While he complained about how unreasonable it was for banks to take multiple days to clear cheques (the ones my family had given him weeks ago to fund my birthday weekend but he’d not bothered to pay in till the day before), I decided to forgo the argument for now, and suggested he drew the money from our joint account which was always flush. Except that it wasn’t…

Long story short, I got to pay for my almost perfect birthday weekend and – some weeks later – gave my long-time boyfriend his marching orders too.

Just in case you’re concerned now, please be assured that I have my happy ending. I’m now living with Himself, who buys gifts which demonstrate that he listens to what I say and remembers, such that I’ve been known to shed happy tears more than once. He also makes sure I get to celebrate my way πŸ™‚

Are you are birthday party person? Or do you prefer to spend your time quietly, with only who you want and doing what you want? In short, do you like fuss, or to fly under the radar?

Β© Debra Carey, 2023

26 thoughts on “The perfect birthday celebration

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  1. I can laugh at it now Jane, but it was quite the moment! I was reminded of the experience by the WordPress prompts which they ran in January, so it’s not been blighting me ever since, but the kick to the kerb decision was probably well overdue, so if this is what it took to make it happen, it was well worth it.

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  2. Yup, exactly that Deb – one job and still screwed it up! I should’ve made the decision earlier, but at least I finally made it.

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  3. My birthdays fly under the radar. Hardly anyone remembers them which is okay by me. Occasionally my husband doesn’t remember which is less okay, but so it goes… it’s just another day.

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  4. Wow, Debs, not the ideal 50th birthday celebration. I’m pleased to learn you gave him the heave-ho and found a more suitable partner. I enjoy spending my birthday with close family, so more under the radar.

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  5. No to parties. I turn 60 in 2024, and I already warned my family. I would like to take a nice weekend trip with my nearest and dearest…

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  6. I thought this was going to be a happy ending. It sounded like such a fun couple of days until the banking problem.

    Birthday parties are such fun for kids–the cake, candles, little gifts from other kids, and a few games. It doesn’t take much to please them. But as the years go by, even kids’ parties have become complicated. I hope my kids remember some good birthday parties, but I also remember the swimming party for my oldest with a lightning storm, also the party for my two-year-old only a month after we’d moved to the Philippines when she didn’t have any friends yet.

    I have a big birthday coming up next month. I’ll leave it to my family to plan.

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  7. A bittersweet memory to be sure, Debs. But going to those wonderful haunts (Ronnie Scott’s is long a bucket item of mine) I hope helped in the aftermath. My ex-wife gave me the 50th I had wanted, but did so in a rote and robotic manner. As if to say, “Here, I’m doing what’s required.” A year later we were parted also. Onward! πŸ˜ƒ – Marty

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  8. Tara doesn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, but I most certainly do. I almost always take the day off, though this year is going to be the exception. But that’s okay: my birthday’s on a Thursday this year and we’re going away for the weekend, so I still get my celebration.

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  9. Oh Janet, that sounds like the perfect way to celebrate a birthday to me πŸ™‚ Fortunately, Himself knows this, and so I get to do it all low key too.

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  10. Last year, both Himself & I forgot the other’s birthdays. It had been one of those ploddy, one foot in front of the other kinda years, so neither of us took it the wrong way, and even managed to have a good laugh about it each time. It was useful in that it highlighted just how much plodding was going on, so we’re trying to live in a more smell the flowers kinda way now.

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  11. Thanks Christie, it was a trigger for a long-overdue action on my part. I like quiet and select people only too πŸ™‚

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  12. I hope they listen LA. Although why anyone would think you *need* to do more than have a nice weekend trip with one’s nearest and dearest is beyond me!

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  13. I did enjoy it Nicki, though that might sound a little odd – but being able to focus on doing the things I wanted to do on my birthday was lovely, regardless of having to pay for it myself. Generally, by having to share birthday celebrations with my mother, we only ever did what she wanted. There were a few other birthdays, when I insisted on doing something on my own, and let’s just say that things never went *exactly* to plan! One day I may tell those stories…

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  14. Ronnie Scotts was *ace* Marty, I’ve enjoyed it every single time I’ve been (even though it’s not been as many as I’d like). I bought my daughter tickets to see Van Morrison there for one of her significant birthdays and she said the music was great, but he was grumpy! I hope you do get over here to do it.

    But, you know, what you said about your ex wife chimed with my ex going through the motions too. Onward it is for sure – especially now we know how much better off we are πŸ™‚

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  15. I’m not fixated on celebrating things on their actual date, and just enjoyed celebrating my granddaughter’s birthday with her a week after the day because they went away on holiday for the actual day. Thanks to video calling, I got to “see” her on the day itself, but she’s already got the hang of being able to celebrate her birthday for days and days and days! πŸ˜€

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  16. Mark, I actually have done the former (later in fact) and Cinco de Mayo never gets a look in due to its proximity to my actual birthday πŸ˜‰

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  17. My birthday is in two days, and I’m looking forward to a “me time” day. This has been a busy week – a couple of birthday lunches included – and I’m ready for a day to myself. Rarely do we get together with family on my actual birthday, but we combine birthday celebrations close to one of us. This year, we’re celebrating my birthday, Mother’s Day, and my grand niece (who will be 3). She will steal the show. But that’s OK.

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  18. Ooooh, another Taurean, I’m sorry to have missed it but hope you had a fabulous birthday – and I love the idea of celebrating many wonderful things together. When you’re little, having your *own* birthday is important, but later one, most of us aren’t that bothered about it (and it sounds like you feel the same way on that as I do).

    I also think it allows you to stretch it out and celebrate your birthday in lots of small ways πŸ™‚ A friend of mine’s significant birthday occurred during the first big (serious) lockdown in 2020. So she found lots (and lots) of small ways to celebrate it throughout the year.

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  19. I don’t like fuss, I would rather go somewhere to celebrate, like on a hike or to see a ballet. I like people but I hate big parties, they are too exhausting. Often times birthday celebrations show our friends’ true colors and it’s all for the better. Life is too short to eat green bananas…

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  20. Welcome Milena πŸ™‚

    I’ve never heard the saying “life is too short to eat green bananas” but it’s great! I won’t eat ripe bananas, so I hoover waiting for the green to turn…

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