As a young girl, I remember boldly proclaiming I did not want to become an adult. To grow up. With a calm demeanor, my mother solicited my explanation for such a proclamation.
Adults don't believe in magic. They don't eat birthday cake or make wishes. They don't hear the stories the wind tells as it rushes by, I said.
My mother took a deep breath. She was quite still, thoughtful. My allotted time for personal attention was expanding beyond the few minutes her harried schedule usually allowed. Pleased by my own fearless announcement, I waited as an apprentice sitting at the foot of an exalted teacher.
Well, mother began, who do you think taught you about magic? Who baked and frosted your birthday cakes? Who writes the stories you read in bed, even after the light is turned off?
Adults do, I grudgingly answered. But those grownups are different, I cried in my defense. They don't make wishes.
No different than you or I, my mother smiled. Becoming an adult, growing up is not all that bad. Use your imagination. Nurture it. Hold it tight. Keep demanding birthday cake and ice cream. Share your ideas about magic, about wishes. Just like I share with you.
But you are different mom, I said. You are not like the other mothers.
Rising my mother said, you don't need to be like the other mothers either.
As I have aged, my love of birthday celebrations has remained constant. I can't imagine a birthday without cake and ice cream. Presents I can do without, but the magic represented by cake, ice cream and a wish sent into the ether, I can not.
My calendar is filled, every single month, with the birthdays of colleagues, friends and family. Sometimes I make a phone call. Sometimes a card. Sometimes I bake a cake. Sometimes I make lunch reservations. Always I make a wish.
All of my family, most of my friends, live far and away. I can't share cake, or watch candles blown out as a wish is made. It has been frustrating not to be able to share the day with loved ones. To laugh with them, to be present with them, to wish with them.
Instead I write long rambling letters throughout their day. I eat their favorite cheeseburger and fries. I buy a slice of desired chocolate cream pie in a pastry crust. I take photos of a cherished view. Then I send the rambling letter, the photos and describe the brilliance of pie with a pastry crust.
I talk directly to my sister, my brother, my friend. I write about random thoughts and silly observations, just as if I were sitting at table with them.
And I always make a wish. A wish I send out into the night for them. The wish itself is a tradition now.
These birthday wishes are for more laughter, more ease, more candles on the cake. To have more wishes to make.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our guest today is Catherine McKinney who "lives to write" and is "an eternal student of story and the story teller" (her words!). She lives in Maine and does indeed write over at Catherine W McKinney, Misadventures of a Writing Life, Word by Word. Welcome to Vision and Verb, Catherine!