My belly is full of filet mignon and garlic mashed potatoes, salad with creamy Italian dressing, hot French bread dipped in sauce, several pieces of stuffed artichoke and two glasses of wine.
I'm so glad I wore my stretchy pants.
My husband, my mother, my daughter, my step children and their respective significant others gathered with me tonight at one of my favorite restaurants, Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse.
I know, I know. I live in New Orleans (the suburbs, anyway), and I'm supposed to be eating red fish covered with crawfish etouffee and crab meat au gratin at Galatoire's. But, frankly, I'm not a millionaire. And the French Quarter is far, far away (with a $12 parking fee).
And while I do enjoy my share of boiled crawfish, crabs and shrimp, I am primarily a carnivore. I love my steak.
And just when I thought I couldn't take one more bite, our nice waitress brought out a huge slice of chocolate mousse cake with a little candle on it and she, my family and several other patrons sang "Happy Birthday" to me.
Now I"m pretty tired and sleepy and I would just love to go upstairs and crawl into my nice, soft bed with the cool sheets and my warm husband.
But I can't.
I'm waiting. Waiting for the clock to strike midnight.Waiting for my 49th year to end and my 50th to officially begin.
I admit it. I love my birthday. All of them. Yes, even this 50th.
Here I am like a little kid waiting for the party to start. I am. Tomorrow is my birthday. And I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.
And I don't understand why everyone doesn't feel this way.
Just the other day a childhood friend celebrated his big 50th birthday. I dutifully wrote on his Facebook wall my hopes for his happiness, good wishes and birthday cake.
"Thanks," he replied. "But it's just another day."
NO IT'S NOT.
It's your birthday. The anniversary of the day you were born. The day you became you.
To quote Dr. Seuss (from my favorite book): "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."
Read that book. It's how every birthday should be celebrated -- with food and horns and people coming out of the woodwork.
As children, we counted down the days, excited for the party or the presents or the new bike dad promised to buy. Sure I was spoiled. My parents always made a huge deal out of my birthday. I had parties with my friends, cakes with pink roses and Hawaiian punch in my Grannie's milk glass punch bowl.
Even as I grew older, I knew it would be a day to gather with family. My grandmother would slip me an extra $20 bill. It was the one day of the year my father would call me.
The way I see it, birthdays are like your very own special Christmas. It's the day people will think of you. Remember you. Celebrate you.
I keep a calendar every year, and every January I dutifully mark the birthdays of the friends and family members in my life. But I could just as easily mark the dates of my second grade boyfriend, the guy I had a crush on in high school and my college boyfriend. I still remember them and I think of them on that date, wonder how they are and wish them well.
I remember my father on February 23rd, my grandmother on July 16, my grandfather on August 26 and my brother on September 29. And wish I could help them blow out one more candle.
A few years ago I said the same thing to my father-in-law, Pappy, on his birthday.
"Just another day," he replied.
"Hey," I said. "Enjoy it. You don't know how many more you're going to have."
It was his last. July 19th.
Celebrate. While you can. For as long as you can.