On This Day
Written by , Posted in life
I’ve always liked my birthday. In New England, where I grew up, it was in the season we called autumn, which has always sounded to me richer and more beautiful than fall, when the leaves crunched satisfactorily under my feet, the air was crisp and delicious, and the trees formed row upon row of metaphor with their deep and vibrant changing colors. And, like the season, my birthday always brought me delight because my mother made it what every birthday should be: A day to very intentionally celebrate life and lavish love.
And even at 32, contrary to unspoken rules of grown-womanhood, I still like my birthday. I am still all for life and love. (I wouldn’t turn away a decadent birthday cake either.)
So when I overheard a piece of my son’s online history lesson, I was surprised and saddened. I had no idea that November 9th was the date of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Forty-one years before I was born, the Holocaust began. A day to very intentionally destroy life and spew hate.
In my melancholy quiet, I thought about the devastation of that day and of the years that followed it, of the real evil that humans inflicted upon their fellow humans. And I thought that November 9th was starting to sound like a really shitty day to come into the world for a baby girl who would be all for life and love.
But then I remembered my tenth birthday. Across the ocean from a little New Englander who was jumping in leaf piles, excited to finally be a “double-digit midget,” there were people tearing down a wall of oppression, climbing over to freedom, and embracing family members for the first time in decades. A day to very intentionally celebrate life and lavish love.
I’m fond of saying, “I’m here to help” because once in a while it lends itself to my sarcastic humor but mostly because I believe it. So I thought about my birthday this year and the small ways I might make it for people within my reach not a day of broken glass and flames but of torn-down walls and embraces.
And the trees were autumnal-colored metaphors.
Also on November 9th:
- 1872, The Great Boston Fire
- 1964, “Pepa” of Salt-N-Pepa is born
- 1967, First edition of Rolling Stone Magazine is published
What historical events took place on your birthday? Do you share a birthday with anyone interesting? Surely you can do better than my “Pepa.”
(You can find out by searching the day and month on Wikipedia.)