I’ve created a new holiday.
No, it’s not like Seinfeld, this is no “Festivus for the Rest of Us.” I just . . . had to do it.
There’s a reason behind all this, I think you should know it, embarrassing as it is to say.
My wife, Andrea’s, birthday confounded me. Annually. From the beginning I never knew what would work best for her. She’d have her mind set on one thing as a present. If I got her something else, something better, even, the day was ruined. Totaled like a Ford Explorer careening down a highway onramp. One year I asked what she wanted and she said “diamonds, big old rocks.” I got her a bracelet with diamonds in it . . . and it was “too modern.”
Eventually I asked her to tell me what she wanted. She hated surprises, but when the day came and there were none . . . it was a mess. In the end, too late, I realized after she was gone all she wanted was this to be “her” day. Ignore work, stay away from other things, focus the day on her. This was hard for me to come to terms with as I share my birthday. When we were first married I had to celebrate it at her parents’ house because “it’s my parents’ anniversary” she would say. Then came Hannah, and I adore that she’s got the same birthday as I do. I was fine with being in the background and celebrating the fact my daughter’s getting older while I avoided the topic. But Andrea, well, she never came to terms with that.
The one thing I could never do . . . was get it right, it seems. Every year she wanted me to take the day off for her birthday. Every year, it was in the first week of the November ratings period. It never mattered that I could take her to the doctor, pick up the kids when her mother wasn’t up to it or just plain come home early 8 other months out of the year. This day was paramount.
Now, I work at a job where I could have gotten home on time every day and she’s gone.
Last year I made a decision that the failures and the depression and the stress had to end. We built up to the 30th of October with trepidation and worry. Instead, I decided that we’d celebrate the day anyway. I got each of the kids a little gift. I made a birthday cake. We had a nice dinner, did all of it. If we needed to talk about Andrea, we did, but it was a celebration of all of us, not a bearing of our souls because we lost something.
The kids – even this week – still call it “Mom’s birthday.” I call it “Celebration Day.” (Thank you Zeppelin) Sure, it’s the day before Halloween. Sure, I don’t get a present, I’m the one giving them. Still . . . it doesn’t bother me. I’m getting something for each of the kids. I’ve added a couple others to the mix, but it’s about those close to me. Those I love.
It’s a celebration day. Not just of the woman we all loved, she certainly has to know that by now. It’s of the family we are…and of the creed we live by:
We’re stronger together than when we’re apart.