Growing up my family didn't make a huge deal out of birthdays (read: no ponies or Super Sweet 16 bashes), but we kept little traditions to help us feel special.
- Birthday Cereal: As kids, we weren't allowed to eat cereals with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Whenever we went grocery shopping, we were trained to read nutrition labels to see which cereals were acceptable. (To this day, I have the sugar content of many major brands memorized.) On our birthdays however, we could choose any cereal we wanted and it was our special birthday cereal. Count Chocula was my choice every time.
- Birthday Hot Lunch: I went to a very small public school on the south side of Chicago where we didn't have a cafeteria or lunch room. From 1st through 8th grade, everyone brought their own sack lunch and we ate at our desks. On my birthday, my mom would ask what hot lunch I wanted (read: fast food) and she would deliver it to my classroom. I loved looking at the back of the classroom at 11:30am to see a Happy Meal perched on the bookshelf with my name on it. Happy day!
- Birthday Card from Papa & Gram: From age 1 to 18, my grandparents gave me a birthday card with the same amount of cash as the age I was turning. So on my 6th birthday, I received $6, $7 the next year, etc. It was a great and simple tradition, which they continue with my younger cousins. Now that I'm an adult, I still get a card with the same salutation, "Love, Papa & Gram XOXO" and it makes my heart so happy.
- Free Food: As a poor college student, I realized that certain restaurants give away free food on birthdays if I signed up for their newsletter. Sure my inbox is filled with stupid offers on any given day, but this week ALONE I received a free Starbucks drink, a free medium Dunkin Donuts coffee, a free appetizer from Texas Roadhouse, a free dessert from Beef O'Brady's, a free Rooty Tooty Fresh N' Fruity from IHOP, and a free appetizer from Lonestar Steakhouse. Can't beat that.
So to the other 5,999,999,999 people in the world, it's just another Wednesday (or Thursday if you're in Australia). But to me, it's the one day a year I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and not feel guilty about it. BAM! It's my birthday.