My dreams appear to me in the middle of a busy work day, riding on the bus, or walking down a city street. As if lightning has struck, I feel stunned and suddenly aligned by whatever image has entered my mind. The true ones stick. The images that seem most vivid are the ones I work hardest to make so. And if ignored, they pop up more often. It’s like the Universe knows your deepest desires and it’s giving you a road map to follow.
I was born on December 25th, 1987. My mother swears I am the “best gift she ever got” after trying to deliver me in the hospital for over 60 hours. All the doctors basically abandoned her for their Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners, but she finally was able to deliver me! In a picture taken soon after I came home, you see my newborn body wrapped in a red, green, and white hand-knitted hospital blanket and I am tucked under the twinkling tree my parents set up before they rushed to the hospital.
I like to think being born on a day when the main objective of the Christian world is to focus on Peace and Joy works in my favor. I don’t associate my birthday with myself, but with the joy I feel surrounding me on this particular day. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas and I know some people associate the day with less-than-happy memories. But for me, it’s the proximity to Joy that I love about my birthday. I like the idea that “in theory” it’s a day to hug and give gifts and laugh about things more than other days on the calendar.
I am told on my third birthday, as we crossed the US-Canadian border to get to my paternal grandparents’ house, I uttered from my car seat, “Mommy, It’s my Birthday!” My mother paused in horror and realized she had not yet acknowledged my birthday yet that day. It had been such a busy day and she’d yet to say “Happy Birthday” to me. I am told she took a guilt-ridden pause, then began enthusiastically singing happy birthday to me, as she internally vowed to never forget again! Obviously, my three-year-old memory doesn’t recall this incident. Nonetheless, she’s never forgotten and to this day she is always the first to wish me, “Happy Birthday.”
This forgetfulness around my birthday inevitably happens every year. How can it not! It’s one of the most anticipated holidays and everyone has their own lists; shopping lists, grocery lists, white elephant lists, cookie exchange lists. It’s easy for my birthday to get lost in the flurry of the season.
I always know what will happen on my birthday. Traditions dictate the day and we will go through each one. The surprises are limited to gifts and new guests at the table. Because of this predictability, I began to wonder what it was like to be born on “an ordinary day.” What was it like when you woke on a regular Tuesday and had work but it was your birthday? How would you make an ordinary day special?
This curiosity fed the idea of celebrating my 30th birthday in a completely different way. What would it be like to celebrate out of the ordinary? What would that look like and feel like? I had to know.
Rome has always been special to me. It’s the Eternal City. It has been there and will be there till we are dust. It also has an endless amount of my most cherished things; history, carbs, gelato, wine. What other city would I spend my 30th birthday in?! Of course Rome was the place.
Due to my experience of celebrating Christmas in Rome I can confidently say celebrating Christmas in a foreign country is incredibly underrated. This Christmas was the most relaxing Christmas I have had to date. With no dinners to attend but my own Birthday dinner (That Paul planned!!!!), and no gifts to give in person but to my partner – the day was stress free! The only schedule I was on was my own and I felt like a jolly spectator. When I casually asked Paul, “What should we do today?” He immediately replied, “Whatever you want! It’s your birthday!” I liked this new way of celebrating.
We hit up a few tourist sites I wanted to see and took our time to do whatever I wanted! After our day out we came back and I got all dolled up for my birthday dinner. Paul thoughtfully selected and reserved dinner at a fabulous seafood restaurant. He also presented me with a Murano glass ring he’d bought me in Venice back in November. I wore it with my Murano beaded necklace.
Dinner was many courses accompanied by great conversation and we were soon drunk on Love!!!! It was the best birthday dinner I’ve ever had in my life!!! Paul indulged me and asked about my 20s in retrospect – things I’ve learned, things I accomplished. And then he asked me, “and what do you want to do in the next decade?” I answered with honesty and optimism. It was a nice way to start this next decade.
I highly recommend celebrating at least one Christmas like it is your birthday and not Christmas. To hell with the status quo! Celebrate faraway from familiarity, with a lover, Prosecco, and gourmet food.
After dinner we visited the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.