On Birthdays and Balloons


August is a big birthday month in our family. There are five people born within 3 weeks of each other. Needless to say, the oncoming of August always signifies something special for our clan. It’s a month of joyful celebrations and fun gatherings for all of us. And hopefully a lot of cake!


Growing up, my late August birthdays were spent with friends and family having fun birthday parties at the pool… or in the local bowling alley, roller rink or movie theatre if we had had enough of the summer sun. They were simple parties, but there was always joyful. There is something magical about having a birthday party as a kid.

As I got older, the parties seemed to dwindle, as they often do for adults. There were no more bowling alleys or backyard barbecues. Somewhere along the line, I stopped ordering birthday cakes and streamers and settled for quiet time, opting to do a little something small if I even had the time. Gone were the days of candles and cake. It became more about forgetting the day than celebrating it.


Was it because I was older that I lost site of the celebration? Was I just denying myself something made just for me and justifying it by saying – I am too old for a party? If 14 wasn’t too old to have a party, why should 40 feel like it is? Why do we stop celebrating ourselves?


I don’t necessarily need a full on party with pin the tail on the donkey (although with a margarita in me, that might be a little fun). But suddenly at this time in my life, pausing for a pedicure and some prosecco on my special day doesn’t seem self-indulgent… it seems necessary. Taking time out for a sunset soiree at the beach becomes part of what I need to do rather than what I might do one day if I can organize it better/sooner/fancier.

The thing is, birthdays are really just about celebrating ourselves….taking a little time out each year and saying “yay me!” regardless of where you are. While each day we can all silently celebrate our small and large victories, the benchmark of a birthday is important. It’s a reset. A chance to see where you have been and where you are going. Most importantly, it’s a chance to celebrate yourself – where you are….present and accounted for.


So this year, when that special day rolls around, I am not going to hide in my house and pretend my birthday is not happening. You will find me celebrating another circle around the sun in style somewhere. Unapologetically and with joy. With style and grace.


Just know, there will be cake, balloons and streamers.

Libby Williams is a photographer, designer, and food blogger living in Charleston. She is inspired daily by a lot of things around her: her growing...

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