Older and wiser; mostly older

My birthday falls in this no-mans-land between Christmas and New Year. I’ll be spending it on my own. But unlike Christmas, I haven’t got into a happy routine for my birthday.

Here’s a tip for would-be parents: do not schedule your baby’s arrival for a week either side of Christmas, but if you must, have Baby before rather than after. Immediately after is a completely miserable time of year to have a birthday.

As a child, my birthday was an annual exercise in humiliation. I won’t go into endless stories, I can sum it up by saying that the one consistent message I received in word and action was that my birthday, and by extension I, was a hassle.

Unsurprisingly then, I never had birthday parties as a child, in large part because there was no-one around to invite (being summer holidays and all). That we could have had a family party seemed never to have occurred to my parents. Or perhaps it did, but it would have been a hassle.

So I don’t plan anything because frankly, I feel paralysed by the event. It’s hard for me to think clearly about it. It’s even harder to imagine what to do to make it enjoyable. For some reason, buying myself a present and making a special meal just doesn’t work the way it does at Christmas.

I’ve tried shopping, but it feels very much like what it is: trying to make myself feel better by buying stuff I don’t need. I have gone to the movies on my own, which is a nice outing – I had the whole theatre to myself once which was fantastic, especially since the projectionist twice messed up starting the film and gave me free chocolates to apologise. I’ve tried going out to a cafe for a coffee accompanied by a slice of wonderful French Chocolate tart, and that’s good too.

But something always feels ‘off’ with the day, and I expect it always will. It’s not being alone that’s the problem — I’m not wishing for a massive party or dinner out with a group of friends. I suspect it’s the fear underlying the question of why I am alone: perhaps I really am a hassle.