Milestone birthdays matter. At least, in the world according to Pinterest, some parents and myself.
Guilty of whipping out the paper cutter more often than necessary, I've been known to design invites to parties of three, so imagine my enthusiasm as my husband's birthday nears.
Whether it's the result of my history in the hospitality business or the remnants of my third-grade passion to become "an artist," when I hear the word milestone, I immediately start planning a menu or choosing a location.
Unfortunately, when my husband hears "milestone" he thinks about mortality, death and the disappearance of his wife, who can be found either in the craft room or discreetly using up all the printer ink.
Each year I assume "no surprises" and "no big crowds" — knowing my better half would always choose intimate and small to a lavish celebration.
But in spite of his lower-than-average expectations, I still wake up at 3 a.m. with the perfect "small meets big" celebration idea only to forget it by 8. I rally friends who will never be included for ideas, ask restaurants for their availability without confirming reservations and likely hassle my mother-in-law with incessant emails.
Consumed with planning, he can see determination on my face as the day nears. I'm no longer listening, but instead heating up my hot glue gun and trying to book a theater in which he can watch his birthday "video card."
If "gift-giving-anxiety" is a thing, I have it. I thrive on the successful gifts so much that every birthday is outdone the next year. A trip to the beach turns into a weekend away, lunch includes a show and likely a hotel stay afterward. Dinner is a three-course meal paired with the perfect brew and ended with a three-tier cake.
Regardless of the year we're celebrating, the outcome is never that small, so the awareness that "this birthday matters more than most" causes an all-new pressure for planners like me, whose calendars are marked with more exclamation points than numbers.
And so imagine my surprise, and eventual satisfaction, when my mortality-obsessed husband came clean about my non-surprise plans for 14 people.
Too much, too many.
"Guest of honor" is a cardstock crown my man never plans to wear.
No sooner had he confessed before my early morning wake-up calls ceased. No longer stressed by concerns about my checking account or whom I may have left out, instead plans for possible chinese chinese new year cards food were made, friends were alerted via email, and my husband's face began to show less concern and more acceptance, with what might even be a hint of enthusiasm.
But, while I quieted his Aquarian concern and we reached a Gemini-friendly compromise, one twin agreed while the other secretly wondered if I would still have time for paper invitations, now that we had finally come to an understanding on the nature of the celebration.
Surely, a follow-up to the email request is called for; after all, this is a milestone birthday.
Just two. Two, real paper invitations, hand-written addresses. A keepsake, for my sake, not his.