Local, guilt free, ways to celebrate your birthday this year.
I’m weird on my birthday. Not like Charlie Sheen weird, more like a melodramatic case of the birthday blues. I’m bashful and tenuous, and then I am ungrateful and uncomfortable. My “weird” attitude usually puts a damper on any celebratory gesture done for me and allows me to set unrealistic expectations that keep me right where I want to be—in my delicious kiddie pool full of self pity with a pack of smokes.
Researchers connect birthday blues to fears of aging, high expectations, lack of accomplishments, social pressure, estrangement from loved ones … etc. I can personally check multiple boxes. I want to appear to be easy and no hassle, but I also want to be blown out of the water and absolutely showered in love and affection. The deal is I can’t have both, and the moment I choose the former, I am setting myself up for disappointment.
This pattern of behavior coupled with that fact that I recently stopped drinking made my 2021 birthday seem spooky. But I still wanted to celebrate, so I concocted an adult-appropriate, alcohol-free, Jacksonville locale and pandemic-friendly (ad nauseam) list of birthday celebration ideas that would suffice not only for 2021 but for birthdays in the future.
Note: All suggestions subject to change, interpretation and character development:
Have a murder mystery-themed party. Everyone dresses up as a specific character and plays a role in a “who done it?!” There are a multitude of websites that give you packages and scripts for the entire night that can turn a COVID-regulated group into a life-sized game of Clue. I recommend setting up a mocktail/cocktail bar and some themed hors d’oeuvres (instead of pigs in a blanket try bodies in a blanket) to really get people into character.
Take a trip to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. You can choose your own adventure with options to zipline over a swamp of sunning gators or take the route that I did and mosey through shaded walkways with a pretzel and some Dippin’ Dots while admiring what fantastic outfits reptiles get to wear.
Have a sleepover. As an adult, sleepovers may seem taboo, but let me sell you on it. A night with a couple of friends, some games, some skin care, some piping hot gossip? Set up the snacks (Pizza Hut sells these little iced cinnabon mini rolls) and get the appropriate playlist made. My mom’s facialist said the best face masks are the cheap ones at the grocery store. Now get cracking.
Go shopping. This may translate to you as “retail therapy” when, in fact, I mean it to be more of an exploration of the mind. I, until recently, had never been to Whole Foods, so a trip there meant a deep dive into a culture that I had tiptoed around for years. The multitude of microgreens, pastas made from anything but wheat and grain-free, sugar-free, passion-full food that may consume your wallet but promises to free your mind was astounding. Do remember to put on gloves before entering the food court, though. I got in trouble so you don’t have to.
Ask yourself: “what do you want?” (say this part like Ryan Gosling does in The Notebook). Is there a pair of red-lined Columbia hiking boots calling your name? Have you ever had a massage? Have you always wanted to rent a sailboat and explore the Intracoastal? Have you watched both National Treasure movies back to back? Do that today.
I have, by no means, alleviated myself from my adult birthday anxiety, but I am putting in the effort to elicit a more pleasurable and, dare I say, fun, experience. It’s going to be what I make of it, not what people decide to make for me, and I want to make it good. I want to take the time to give myself what I want, and sometimes, I want to enjoy that in the company of the people I love the most. I challenge you to do the same.
So, what do you want to do for your birthday?