Growing up, birthdays didn’t mean much.
Now don’t get me wrong, my families outrageous tradition of singing happy birthday as loudly and off key as possible is something we all look forward to, but it’s just another day to me and my siblings.
It’s not cause were stuck up or unloved, in fact, we’re the complete opposite.
But when you’re family is struggling and you’re thinking about things like when the next time you’re going to eat? Or ‘are we going to eat?’ There’s not a lot of time to think about birthdays.
Again, that’s not to say we didn’t have enough, because my family always made the impossible happen out of nothing, but birthdays always took a backseat to far greater worries.
Years later not much has changed. I am in my last year of college and of course, worries are stacked on top of worries.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my birthday, but it does mean I’ll settle for a dinner with friends, a few happy birthdays and call it a night.
Boy was I wrong.
My days are busy between two jobs, classes, homework and our CWU Polynesian club so naturally I kept to my schedule.
Went to class, went to one of my jobs, got a short workout in and went straight to Polynesian dance practice.
Before practice I informed other leaders of the group that I would be leaving early to get ready for a dinner that my girlfriend planned and that they should join when they got done.
They said they would come and so I went home and got ready.
My girlfriend arrived at my house at 8 o’clock and when i got in the car she said “Okay here, put this on.” She has a lavalava (traditional Samoan garment) in her hand tied into a blindfold and now i’m like “hold up, wait. Why?”
She proceeds to tell me that she made me a gift and that if I saw where we were going I’d know what the gift was.
I play along because I really do appreciate the effort and her excitement, so i toss on the blindfold.
We drive for about 7 minutes until we park and she helps me out of the car. I can’t see a thing and every step feels like I’m going to bump into something so I’m not feeling this blindfold thing anymore.
We walk thru the cold, into a building, and now I’m thinking “Okay, what the heck is going on?”
She slowly guides my small fearful steps through a hallway, we turn left and I feel myself walking through streamers.
Before I could realize what was happening, the blindfold is stripped off my face and there stood my CWU Polynesian family.
Turns out my girlfriend tirelessly planned a surprise birthday party and with the help of my friends they pulled it off.
People continued to tell me how much I meant to them over the course of that night and I couldn’t help but continuously remind everyone that it was them who brings me joy.At first i felt so undeserving of everyone’s love, but as the night went on i realized that that was not what that night was about.Growing up, birthdays didn’t mean much.But this night was about celebrating life and for once, letting it mean something.