I've had a lot of B-days from hell. I've been storm stayed at least twice, sick with colds, flu or other maladies. I've been dumped twice and stood up at least twice.
Being a farm kid with a B-day in the winter months (that narrows it down to somewhere between late October to early April in these parts!), meant being at the mercy of the weather in planning any gathering. They could be canceled at the last minute. I didn't have a lot of friends as a kid. I do remember a party when I was around 11 or 12 that was a disaster. One girl could only come if her little sister (a brat) came too. Another girl got bronchitis because we played outside. She NEVER let me forget that she got so sick because of my party! My brother had given me a magic kit and he was trying to show us some of the tricks. I inadvertently gave out how two of the tricks were done!
Turning 16 was no fun as I couldn't see well enough to get a license and 18 was a bore as I didn't start drinking till my late 20's. Leading up to 30 was emotionally hard as I was leaving my religious beliefs around the same time. My thirtieth started out to be a good day but I ended up getting into a nasty argument with a good friend.
Then there was the guy who thought that B-days were family celebrations, so he refused to take me out that day. He also left at 11:00PM on New Year's Eve! Yup, he was a winner!!
There were a couple of years in my early thirties that I actually did go out to party, although the person I went out with made me decide almost everything we did - he paid for dinner, drinks etc, but wanted me to make all the decisions.
One year, one of my girlfriends "kidnapped" me for the evening and took me out for Chinese food. She drove down back lanes so I wouldn't know where we were going. We almost got stuck in a snow bank. Later that night we went shopping and when we got back to the car, she realized she had locked the keys inside. My friend wouldn't call her husband as he didn't like me and would have made things even worse! We called my landlord (who was half sloshed) and he got it open with a hanger.
Another time, a guy said he'd take me out for drinks as he was off work that night, then changed his mind when he got a "better" offer. So he went to work, called me and said he had to fill in and close for someone who was sick. He was sorry but would pick me up about 10 and we'd still go out. He called about 9:30 to say his car wouldn't start and he had to cancel. I was a bit suspicious, but though it was possible - until the next day when I ran into a friend of his who told me about a great party the night before!! I wasn't a happy camper and I let him know it!
That was just over 15 years ago and it was also pretty much the end of even trying to do anything on that day. I still made myself a special meal for a few years but now it is pretty much like any other day. I've pretty much trained family and friends to ignore the day. My mom calls the day before or the day after and I still get a couple of funny cards but that is about it. Other than medical or legal forms I don't tell anyone my birth date.
I turned 50 on my last birthday. One of my friends referred to me as an old fossil (even though she is 9 years older and turned 60 this year! Another friend - who had access to my medical info and didn't know the history - teasingly made fun of my advanced age and made a few smart remarks about my Astrological and Chinese zodiac signs.
It was actually kind of sweet that they even remembered and said something, but it still felt weird and a bit awkward. If there had been more people and greetings like that in my life then maybe I'd feel differently about birthdays now. I've never liked being the center of attention or anything sappy/sentimental in cards. (If you have to be sappy - put it in your own words!) I think there have just been too many crappy days along the way to try and erase and start embracing the day.
I know, never say never - and I won't, but I just don't know that I am capable of having a good B-day. IF I ever did try again, it would have to be kept very simple, low key and light - no big gatherings or big surprises. There is a good possibility that I could have a meltdown due to post traumatic "too many b-day celebrations gone bad" stress disorder. That's a tall order to ask of even the closest of friends.
So, please don't take it personally that I don't want to acknowledge the day. Like I said, I'll help others celebrate their day, just don't ask me to celebrate mine. Been there - done that!