Celebrate what’s most important as we age — It’s the close friends and memories you make celebrating those birthday milestones that will stay with you forever.
Growing up, birthdays were always celebrated. Ever since we were young my mother would make sure that our birthday was special. No matter where we were, we had a cake, a party with friends & family and separate gifts.
If you are born in January, your options for parties were always limited – indoor activities only. There were some fun themes including the year I had a Peanuts party where everyone had a name tag in the shape of Charlie Brown (for the boys) and Peppermint Patty (for the girls).
I also remember the year we were supposed to go ice skating, but instead there was a severe ice storm. (and I mean ice, the trees coated with an inch of ice). So the only skating any one did that day was on the slick steps and driveway! Would you believe that everyone invited showed up and then some! Parents walked their kids to our house just so their kids has something to do that day. There was also the costume/slumber party with 20 girls in the living room as a young teen. And, then of course the time I had a dance party and we played the Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey” over and over until midnight when my father said, “Mickey is officially over!”
As I grew older and entered my 20’s and 30’s, my birthday’s were smaller and intimate. Always in attendance were my closest friends. We would have rounds of vodka gimlets and cosmos, dinner, followed by bar hopping that would last well into the night. Sometimes we would also end with dancing to 80’s tracks in the East Village. Looking back, I suppose those nights look a lot like an episode of Sex in the City, although at the time it was entirely unintentional.
There was also an incredible spa weekend with my late friend Kim at the Delano in Miami. When I think back to that weekend Kim was on a mission to make sure I had a damn good birthday. Everywhere we went she said it’s my friend’s birthday and you need to make it special. We loved every minute.
For my 40th Birthday, I threw myself a party. I picked a great bar, Bongo, ordered cake and put down my credit card. I will admit I always envisioned a surprise party thrown by my significant other or husband. (At the time I had yet to meet Scott.) I guess it was a testament to the relationships and great friendships I have — every one of my closest friends were in attendance. Even Liz flew in with her boyfriend, now husband, Shawn.
The day of the party was a holiday weekend and NYC was uber cold and quiet. As we sipped strong drinks, ate cake and chatted until closing time, I was entirely sober but fully satisfied with the evening. And as I closed out the tab, I knew it was a great party. Not because so many guests had to leave their cars and take cabs home, but because my closest friends were there to celebrate and support me. (btw friends still remind me of how strong those drinks were and what a good time they had) No matter what happens in my life my crew has always been there for me and I am there for them.
In January of 2020, none of us had any idea what lay ahead with the pandemic. And once again I was celebrating another major milestone birthday. My husband asked how I wanted to celebrate. Did I want a big party, a trip or something else? As I started to think of what I wanted, the news around the world was scary but it yet to fully hit home. The thought of a destination party was out the window. But in my heart I knew what I wanted… my closest friends and a small cozy gathering with delicious food and drinks.
Like my 40th, I planned the event, although this time Scott coordinated and bought the cake. The weather did not however cooperate — several of my nearest and dearest were unable to travel in the ice storm of 2020. Liz’s Dad broke his hip on the ice and had to cancel her trip to be at his side after emergency surgery. But in spite of that, many friends trudged through the snow and ice to celebrate with me. And those who were not able to attend were there in spirit. My brother came in from DC by train, my brother and sister-in-law drove down from the Berkshires and my parents flew in from Arizona the day before as surprise. Even Kim and her husband John came in from Long Beach by Uber. I feel so blessed to have had that opportunity to be with my friends, especially Kim. We laughed, we cried, we took pictures, hugged and connected with one another. I forgot how much I miss this now. It was a wonderful night in spite of everything.
As I write this post on the eve of my birthday this year, it’s bittersweet. Kim is no longer with us. When she joined me last year she looked the best she had in some time. She was full of life and everything I remember her to be. She was the official birthday princess with a tiara. Unfortunately, she passed away in May 2020 of cancer. Time is precious #forevergrateful #blessed
However, you choose to celebrate your birthday, make sure you celebrate in a way that makes you feel good but takes nothing for granted. It’s the close friends and memories you make celebrating those birthday milestones that will stay with me forever and carry you through tough times. Cheers to future celebrations where we can once again, sip fancy cocktails like cosmos, clink glasses, kiss on both cheeks, eat cake and dance the night way in the company of friends and loved ones. XO