Renoir at Phillips Collection
I'll say this for my most recent "uncelebrated" birthday in May: At least it wasn't a Big One--one that ends in a zero and calls for a larger acknowledgement than usual. This year it was just another year older. Yet, in this time of Covid-19, self-isolation, quarantining and sheltering at home, birthdays can feel less than raise-a-glass occasions. They can get subsumed in sadness, given the uncertainty of the time we are now living.
Still, I wanted there to be something special about the day of the birthday. My son and daughter live 400 and 450 miles away, respectively, so a backyard visit with kids and grandkids seated 6 feet away wasn't going to happen. In the past two years, my birthday coincided with a soccer tournament my grandson's team played in and that brought my son and his family from his city to mine. The tournament may have been the reason for the trip, but the visit included candles, cake and the joy at having them around for my birthday. Other years, my daughter and her family made their way hither and we did something special together--a show, sushi dinner, visits to friends.
This year, none of the above was possible. (Certainly not the soccer: My grandson graduated from high school and the tournament team.) Covid-19 was casting its pall and neither child nor any grandchildren would be coming to my house for my birthday--nor me to theirs. Even a festive dinner out was out. The concern, of course, is that these inhibitions will continue for a while. They could even be in place for my next birthday.
And yet this year's birthday was a joyful one after all. One of the silver linings of the corona misery is that life has slowed down for many of us. For me on my birthday that meant there was time for each of my grown children to hang around the cell phone and have longer-than-usual FaceTime chats with me. No need to rush off to a meeting. Even if there was a meeting, it was by zoom so no need to get up and go someplace. There were bouyant texts from each of my grandkids (lots of colorful emojis and balloon bombs) plus a call from a nephew who had been out of touch for nearly two years. I had a birthday lunch in a friend's backyard--three of us, seated six feet apart, eating our individual orders of sushi.
All told, I not only can't complain, but I had a wonderful day filled with friends and family--some only tech-chat available but nonetheless very much present. I have experienced what may be the future and it's not so bad.