What if my birthday were on February 29th? I could claim to be three quarters younger than I actually am. That in itself is a very scary idea; imagine having to go THERE again. And if you wonder what “there” is, divide your age into four and remember how that felt. 

Most likely that was a time when you hated your parents, actually all grownups pretty much. You couldn’t WAIT to be grown up and make your OWN decisions and not follow those STUPID rules. Needless to say, taxes, rent, college tuition (your own or your kids), and (talking of which) kids, spouses, pets, errands, leaky pipes, bosses, deadlines and the whole lot seemed so lovely (if you knew of them at all) and certainly better than the BS you were dealing with right then: OK, I’ll turn the music down – say what? I can’t year you – speak up.

In reality of course, I’d still be mpf-old, but I would have only had mpf divided into four birthdays. That would SUCK. I love birthdays – if you have ever have been fortunate enough to be invited to one of my birthday parties you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

Here in New York we often go out to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday and the bill gets split up such that the “birthdayee” is invited.  I tried that a few times myself, but always felt bad for my less economically fit friends. 

And I must confess that once or twice I bailed on a friend’s birthday because I knew there would be some big spenders and it was an expensive restaurant. I have not taste for paying for someone else’s three cocktails, entrecote, desert and port wine – although I pull my weight in the wine category.  I find it awkward at best. 

So, I celebrate my birthday the Swiss way. I invite my friends to my house. I bake my own cake, buy the booze, prepare all the food and in general go pretty much nuts to have a great party for my friends. Not me, because after all I want everything to be perfect.  So really, it’s not a birthday party as much as it is my annual thank you to friends for being just that.  It just happens to be around my birthday.  The cake baking is up for grabs by the way… hint.

In Switzerland kids bring a cake to class on the day of their birthday to share with the others.  I think it makes an awful lot of sense, because the kids (their mom most likely) are not going to forget their birthday and so with a cake each time there’s a birthday is guaranteed – unless you’re one of the super unlucky ones to have a birthday during vacation time.  And that’s worse than having a birthday only every four years!

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  1. Thank you Nina, for calling out the birthday dinner awkwardness-to-the-point-of-ugly thing! I’m with you. Have a party. Cook the dinner, invite the guests.

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