September 3, 1963
For me, I think it’s birthdays.
For Charlie Brown, it was Christmas and Valentine’s that was hard to get through.
But with the group holidays, you can at least find someone else in the same boat, someone blue in the season of red and green, or alone in the season of togetherness, or stuck with a bag of rocks in the season of sugar-induced comas.
Birthdays are so focused, so zeroed in. You and you alone have to take the heat and focus of your special day. And that can be great or sour; and even when great, can be a bit too much.
And they are supposed to be milestones – which means either they succeed, which can be depressing (hence the black balloons when turning thirty) or are they fail to be special. Which is equally depressing, considering it is your special day.
It is my special day that prompts reminders that Hollywood is a town only for the young.
It was my birthday (what was it, thirteen?) when I was old enough to understand why I would have to wait for the end-of-the-month paycheck before getting a present.
Two years in a row, my college Christian group threw a surprise party, only to forget to invite me. One of those has an amusing ending – remind to tell you about it someday.
Ah, birthdays. Guaranteed joy.
Today is my brother Chris’ birthday.
Chris’ special day was always a tough one on all of us. It always coincided with Labor Day – the marker that school starts next week. Chris celebrates, then WHAM – we’re all back in the nine month prison system.
You have to understand that for kidlets, the year begins in September. Sorry, January First, but you are irrelevant to the younger generation. Nope, the true marker is the first day of school, the start of a harsh winter (there is little Harvest joy for fourth graders) that won’t end until robins sing.
So Chris’ b-day is the last hurrah, the last sign of freedom.
Of course, time changes everything. Now that the sibs are older, Labor Day is the sign that their kids are going to school, so I suppose it is a marker of impeding freedom – the kind of freedom that comes in daytime chunks.
No matter how it was seen in past years, it is different now.
Christmas and the group holidays won’t be so bad. Sure, he’ll be missed (I actually got to spend last Christmas with him, the first time in a long, long while). But there are other distractions along with his absence, other people that share Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter.
And here we are at the start of the harsh winter.
Why was there never a Charlie Brown Birthday special? Mr. Schultz, you left us equipped for every holiday but the solo one; you left us too soon. There is no Great Pumpkin or Easter Beagle to bring comfort. No popcorn and toast meal or little red-haired girl to distract us.
No tree to resurrect.
All I have is a nickel, and a sack of memories, present regrets and past delights. Perhaps the doctor is in.
Happy birthday, Chris. I hope your party is pure joy this year.
Just my thoughts,