Saturday, August 01, 2015

A birthday

It was my birthday on Thursday. I had a nice day. I didn’t actually “do anything for my birthday”, but I have decided that the way to manage birthdays is to banish all expectations of extraordinary celebrations or being spoilt by anyone in particular (it is none of my business in the slightest, but it bugs me when people write on Facebook walls of those with family ‘hope your husband/wife/kids spoil you today’ as though to publicly guilt the husband/wife/kids into such a thing, and then follows the obligatory post of the ways the birthday haver was spoilt by said husband/wife/kids - and those spoiling posts are then conspicuously absent from single folk’s birthday walls, as it is a truth universally acknowledged that there is no-one under any particular obligation to spoil single people, but that is actually OK as I doubt feeling entitled to be spoilt ever did anyone any great good).

When I arrived at work my computer screen was surrounded by post-it notes saying happy birthday, executed by our young receptionist, who had come to work especially early to do so (this is a big sacrifice for this personage). I also had a packet of chocolate-coated scotch fingers. I don’t know about offices the world over, but in our office it is a great prize if you get to the newly-filled biscuit barrel in time to get one of the few scotch fingers in Arnott’s Family Assorted. I try not to eat the biscuits for starters, and I rarely happen upon the biscuit barrel when it contains a scotch finger, but one day last week I did, and I came back to my desk gloating about this triumph and spouting something so profound and world-changing as ‘the only thing better than a scotch finger is a chocolate-coated scotch finger’, so I was given a whole packet! I was moved.

Then there was a cake, of which I wish I had a photo, as I have also, at some time past, espoused the virtues of chocolate caramel slice. So this cake was a tower of small squares of brownie transitioning into chocolate caramel slice near the summit, with candles protruding randomly from the slopes. It was quite the work of art. There was an office celebration, and the Bishops were late to the singing of happy birthday (because they came out of a meeting especially) so I got an extra Episcopal rendition. Then one of the three people I work for took me to lunch, despite being exceptionally busy. I was also given a weeny pottery plate and some flowers from two colleagues, which I put in my new vase (Country Road sent me an email containing a $20 voucher because I had a store card and it was my birthday, so I gleefully trotted over there one lunch break and got myself a nice ceramic vase).

And my lovely family sent me things in the post and I have bought myself a number of treats lately (I haven’t yet revealed to the blog my other current obsession with buying old paintings in op shops/old wares shops, and painting the frames with chalk paint, so last weekend I took myself to a paint shop, and I have been having fun with a couple I bought on holidays as well as painting old wood frames I’ve had for years).

So, I think this counts as a good day.

I’m endeavouring to be increasingly thankful for the small blessings, which are everywhere, and in that spirit, here is a poem by Christina Rossetti. Well, it’s actually not about a small thing, but not to worry. It's more about seeing beyond the small things to the big thing. Most scholars believe this is written not about romantic love at all, but is linked to her faith. It is written like a hymn, and Christina (we are on first-name basis) uses “birthday” in other poems to refer to the second coming of Christ, which is hinted at here in the description of the throne in the second verses, containing biblical imagery (this is one of the better short online analyses I found).

- Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
    Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
    Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
    That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
    Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
    Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
    And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
    In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
    Is come, my love is come to me.


Rebecca said...

Happy belated birthday, Ali! This is just the kind of birthday I like to have! Nothing extraordinarily grand, just sweet and thoughtful surprises and the company of kind folks.

Perhaps you will post a few pictures of your treasures?

Ali said...

Thank you Rebecca! I quite like it myself. I can only muster up whatever it takes to organise some kind of celebration for myself about once a decade (but nowadays I tell myself that if I don't enjoy it, I don't have to do it, not for my birthday anyway!).

I should shouldn't I? I am in the middle of some strange paint jobs at the moment (it's the quest to find the right greyish green colour - so far I have two pictures frames, neither of which is right) but I will share some at the end.