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The ungrateful birthday girl

You see the title? I'm warning you now: if you haven't read my posts on birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions, then you'll think I'm a horrible person when you read this. However, if you've ever felt like you endure special events, rather than enjoy them - especially if you're the special part of that event - then you'll know what I'm talking about.

With that out of the way, let me tell you that it is my birthday this week. I'm not disclosing this super-exciting information so that I'll get a flurry of good wishes or happy surprises, but so that you'll know I have an event coming up. Whether I like it or not, I will be the birthday girl.

Usually, this involves getting up early, opening presents, then waiting for my mother to come over so I can open her presents. Then I'll make her a cup of tea while she samples my sweets, sit there and be sociable with anyone else who turns up (you can't be grumpy on your birthday), then go out for lunch somewhere that everyone will like and carry on being sociable until it's time to go home and flop into a corner.

And all the while I am trying to summon the birthday mood. I love Christmas, but birthdays are really not my thing. I quite enjoy buying other people presents for their birthday - for myself, let it be a Hobbit birthday and I'll buy everyone else presents, so long as they don't come over and eat my cake.

This year is going to be a little different, though. My mother has been ill this week, and as IT Teen is also ill, they haven't been out shopping for presents. Having left it to the last minute, they are now faced with birthday guilt, as they envisage me sitting, like the last kid at the party, with no friends and nothing to play with (can you hear the sad toot of my paper horn?)

This means that if I want presents then either IT has to get better quick and do shopping for everyone, or RT Teen is elevated to birthday manager. Ahem. RT's usual role is to contribute to the cost of the presents, making the card and wrapping things up. He's never really had to go out and buy presents before.

If IT was stuck for ideas, he'd probably buy chocolate or sweets. If RT was stuck for ideas, he'd either come home with a sorry look on his face and explain, on the day, that he hadn't found anything, or maybe he'd buy me something wholly unexpected, that struck him as a good idea at the time. I'd never be completely surprised if I opened the door to a pony or my own mini-tractor with RT but you're just as likely to get a set of kitchen spoons.

On Friday, presents notwithstanding, I have to take IT to college and my mother to a doctor's appointment. She wanted to call somewhere to get my birthday present on the way home, but if it's a difficult idea to sit and open presents in front of everyone else, it's an even worse one to wander round the shop, helping people to buy them and still try to feel like it's a nice day.

Shall I tell you what I'm really hoping for this Friday? Can I be completely honest with you, please?

After I've taken my mother to the doctor, I want to come home and read a book, in peace, for most of the day. I'm ordering it for myself right now. I'm bound to get some sweets or chocolate on the day so I have this vision of myself, in solitude, just me (and two hopeful dogs), eating something nice, drinking tea and reading a new book. There, that's what I want for my birthday.

I really don't want to go out for my lunch, but the alternative is making my own birthday tea so that other people will think I've had a good time. I don't mind having a cake or having a ready-made pizza for tea as that's easy for me. I don't even mind if no one comes to the party.

Yes, to anyone who loves these special days, I am a horrible person. But to those of you who sympathise with the image of wanting to be alone, doing whatever you like, then you'll know where I'm coming from.

I don't want IT to be ill all week, I do want my mother to be better by Friday and I don't want anyone to feel I'm missing out on the celebration. I just want my book, the tea and the dogs for company. It doesn't even have to be wrapped.


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