My birthday is within the week before Christmas. Growing up, that used to annoy me. The reason is the one thing Christmas and birthdays have in common…presents. I saw my friends having parties and getting presents on their birthdays. I knew they got them at Christmas. For me, though, I lost count how many times I heard the words “this is for birthday and Christmas combined.” I often felt cheated, thinking my birthday was lost in the festivities.
My older sister‘s birthday is close to Christmas as well, though hers is within the week after Christmas. (I am purposely not giving my age in this column, as it will establish a baseline for people to know my older sister’s age and she’ll kill me.) The closeness of her birthday to Christmas irritates her as well. Both our birthdays are a product of religious reasons. We were raised Catholic. The Catholic Church has a population explosion each year around December/January, as this is the time of year around nine months after Easter. (Practicing Catholic parents have to give up something for Lent.)
As I got older, I learned to deal with the situation. Presents are nice, but there are things more important than material items. One of the things I began doing was taking pleasure in certain events that happened on my birthday: little things that weren’t intentional, but that added meaning for me. I treated these events as presents. Sometimes these things have national importance. For example, Clinton was impeached on my birthday. Other times, these things make sense only to me. I love to cook and am a devotee of the Food Channel. Last year, on my birthday, I discovered I was only three degrees from Rachael Ray.
This year, the event that marked my birthday dealt with my older son and his medication. My older son, Andrew, has been taking medication for seizures for seven years. As he grows, the amount of the medication increases. Only two months ago, he was taking eight pills a day: four in the morning and four in the evening. And then, as I wrote in this column two months ago, a new doctor suggested taking him off the medication. As it can’t be done cold turkey, we have been reducing it by one pill every two weeks. On my birthday, my son was able to make another reduction, going from five pills a day to four. Halfway through the reduction process, there have been no side effects it seems.
My son still has a ways to go. As he is only halfway through his medication reduction, I am still nervous about the second half. For now, though, the latest pill reduction made a great present for my birthday.