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anne_mikolay_120Today is my birthday.

When I was a little girl in New York, my mother baked me a chocolate layer cake for my birthday, or my father purchased a layer cake from a local bakery. Either way, the cake was delicious: two layers of yellow cake with thick, sweet chocolate frosting topped with a red cherry. Nowadays, when I purchase a layer cake in a bakery, more often than not I bring home a disappointingly cardboard-tasting cake with a gooey filling of some unidentifiable cream. The old adage “they don't make things like they used to” definitely applies to birthday cakes.

No matter. I'm not having a birthday cake this year, nor am I having a birthday party. After years and years of kiddie parties at Chuck-E-Cheese and elsewhere, I no longer jump up and down at the prospect of a birthday celebration. Of course, I'm way beyond Chuck-E-Cheese age; my idea of a fun birthday these days is much less colorful and noisy. In fact, I envision myself quietly celebrating this evening with family, then retiring, teacup in hand, to watch television, and enjoy my personal birthday cake substitute: a decadent black and white cookie.

When people ask me “what are you doing for your birthday?” I tell them what I am not doing. I'm not making the beds or picking up the empty water bottles my sons left in the family room. I'm not making dinner; I'm eating out. I'm not doing laundry; the hamper can spill over onto the floor today and I won't blink twice. I am not taking out the garbage; if something smells funky in the kitchen, somebody else will have to dispose of the offending agent. I am not doing dishes, nor replenishing the paper towels in the kitchen, or the toilet paper in the bathroom. I am not picking up or moving anything other than my  middle-aged butt onto the sofa to watch television, sip tea, and savor every single fattening bite of my black and white. Happy Birthday to me!

My kids don't agree with a reserved approach to birthdays, but that's to be expected when they have the excitement of youth on their side. But how can I stay up late for a birthday bash when the advancing years make it increasingly hard to get out of bed in the mornings? Heck! I fall asleep on the sofa in front of the television at night long before Mac Taylor's team solves the crime on CSI-New York! How can I be expected to eat chips, pizza, ice cream and cake when a single potato chip can add a full pound that will take me a full week to shed? A birthday party? No way! Just give me my tea and my black and white and I'll be content, thank you!

Birthdays are, indeed, a bit different at my age than they used to be. As a kid, I welcomed the festive atmosphere and the attention, but nowadays, I relish solitude and simplicity. A quiet birthday may not appeal to many, but it's heaven to me.