The Postscript: Celebrating with a birthday blow-out

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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The Postscript:
By Carrie Classon

It’s my birthday this week.

This is not normally cause for a big celebration and this year it is less than usual. Still, unlike my husband, Peter, I actually do celebrate my birthday. I don’t expect anyone else to celebrate—although it’s nice to know my parents remember I was born and still seem to think it was a good thing.

But I’m puzzled by reports of people my age who have huge celebrations or pout if they don’t get a party. My grandmother had a big party on her 100th birthday and I think that’s an appropriate time for a “blow-out” (as she called it). Otherwise, I think the only person who has any reason to celebrate my birthday is me. It’s good to have been given another year.

This year, Peter asked, as he always does, what I wanted on my birthday. The choices were more limited than in the past, but that really didn’t matter. It’s fun to receive one unusual thing that makes me happy. One year, I asked Peter for a new toilet seat. Peter saw nothing wrong with the existing one (he wouldn’t!) but cheerfully replaced it on my birthday.

“Just don’t go telling everyone I got you a toilet seat for your birthday!” he said.

But now I have.

This year, my plans are less grandiose. I was thinking about cheese, specifically, a big pot of melted cheese. I know, the weather has been warm but the idea of fresh fruit dunked in a vat of nice cheese sounded irresistible.

“Fondue,” I told Peter. “I’d like fondue for my birthday.”

“Hot oil or cheese?”

“Cheese—good cheese!”

We ordered long forks and are all set. Peter is making cheese fondue.

I celebrate my birthday for the same reason I journal—to keep track of where I am in life. Peter says it would be better just to forget about that, especially as we get older, but I disagree. I like to know where I am and where I’ve been. I think that might be more important this year than ever.

I probably get this from my mom. She’s kept a journal every day of her life since she was in college. She claims it is a profoundly dull document. She famously described it as, “an uninterrupted record of every dental appointment I’ve ever had.”

But I know this is not strictly true because she does look things up to see what she was doing a year ago or five years ago on that date. She tells me, from time to time, about something she wrote a few years back.

“Oh! We were worried about you,” she’ll tell me. I had no idea my parents were worried, but her journal knew.

My daily journal rarely records anything as exciting as my dental appointments. Usually, I am just trying to figure stuff out, seeing where I am, where I’m going, noting what I’ve done and what I’d still like to do—both in the near term and before I run out of time for good. Journaling reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for. Birthdays do the same thing.

As an afterthought, I ordered a dozen cupcakes. I didn’t figure a cake made much sense since there was no one to share it with, but I thought it might be fun to distribute cupcakes to friends and neighbors. I’m getting one dozen red velvet cupcakes with buttercream frosting. I’m having mine with a scoop of peppermint ice cream.

If that isn’t a blow-out, I don’t know what is.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at