And then I grew up and met and married my husband. His family celebrated birthdays quite differently. His experience was far more subdued and sedate. I remember when we were first dating his birthday came first and I showered him in gifts and cards and a birthday lunch and a birthday cake and decorations... and he was so overwhelmed with all the attention that he was actually uncomfortable the entire day! However, when my birthday came three month later, he was wise enough to make a huge deal out of it, much to my delight.
When I turned 25, Michael threw a pretty big surprise birthday party for me at the Disneyland Hotel. Family and friends gathered around for lunch and cake and presents (I remember it as my "Alice" year, as every single gift was an Alice in Wonderland item!). Even my co-workers at the Disneyland Resort swung by on their lunch breaks to wish me a happy birthday. I was blown away, because I'd never before in my life had a single birthday party, on my birthday. I'd had one party one summer on my half-birthday, but it just wasn't the same.
When I turned 30, Michael came up with the idea of having a big birthday breakfast for me. Friends would be willing to come for an hour or two on the morning of Christmas Eve to relax and celebrate before going on with their busy last-minute Christmas preparations. It was a little oasis in the midst of craziness. So every year we've repeated it. The friends and family are sometimes different, depending on travel schedules and out of town guests, but the tradition never fails to make me giddy and happy in way that you normally see in a 6 to 8 year old!