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Happy Birthday, Kharmin!

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”
–Mark Twain

To those who know me, it is no real surprise that April 1st is my birthday. Everyone who didn’t know (but do now) says, “Well, that explains a lot.” I know that such comments are really meant in jest, but after so many years, and so many birthdays, it kinda gets old. I won’t say how old I am, but suffice it to say that although I am not yet Over the Hill, I am starting to see beyond the summit.

Having survived this many years so far, you can imagine that I have seen just about every April Fool’s Day gag known to man. Sure, it was cute when I was a kid, because I would be suspicious of just about every birthday present I was given, every card I opened and every phone call I received. In retrospect, though, it was rough. All of the other kids had “normal” birthday parties, “normal” birthday presents and “normal” birthday cakes (how many years do I have to sit through those stupid gag candles that re-light themselves? They weren’t funny anymore after the third time!). I used to hate my birthday. It sucked to be the one everyone was pulling jokes on. I mean, c’mon– it’s my birthday for crying out loud and I hated it.

Then, one year, while visiting my grandparents for Easter (which also coincided with my birthday), my Granddad told me that March 31 wasn’t his real birthday. He told me this secret– for just the two of us to share– that April 1st was his real birthday, but when I was born, he had his birthday legally changed to March 31st, so that I would have my special day all to myself.

Wow. I couldn’t believe it! Someone actually did something to make my birthday extra-special, and it wasn’t some kind of prank. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know my Granddad that well, due to distance, his early illness and subsequent death. I will never forget that he did this special thing just for me… even in later years when it turned out that it wasn’t true.

His birthday really was on March 31st. When I learned this fact, I was old enough to understand why he had lied to me about our special secret. He knew how much I hated the tricks, pranks and practical jokes, and he made up his story just to give me what my birthday was supposed to be– an extra-special day just for me.

Since that time, I have looked on my birthday with a new perspective. I don’t mind the jokes and tricks so much anymore. Heck, my birthday is more special because of them… everyone else just has “normal”, boring birthdays. It becomes more of a challenge, now, for my friends and family to find new ways to play jokes on me on my birthday, especially since I am wiser now than I was so long ago. One year, my wife tried to fool me with a birthday cake made out of meatloaf with mashed potatoes as icing. She decorated it all up with candles and everything. It almost fooled me– almost. I’m sure that in the coming years, she will continue to look for more subtle pranks to try and fool me. I know that she’ll teach some of them to our daughter, and I may allow some of those to fool me. Who knows?

Happy Birthday to me.

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