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13 birthday perks

Maybe nothing can compare to the almighty 21st birthday, but when I hit the big 22 last week, I was reminded of all the things that make birthdays great no matter what your age.

First of all, there is a little thing I like to call the birthday complex. This is what allows anyone the right to simply say, “It’s ok, it’s my birthday” in response to virtually anything that comes up on their special day.

One great way to exercise the birthday complex is to eat whatever you want. If you fancy a bacon cheeseburger and fries for lunch, go for it. When it’s your birthday, you have an excuse to throw out the diet rules and chow down on something greasy and fattening.

And the great part about eating out on your birthday is you don’t have to pay for a single meal. Maybe your roommates take you out for a birthday breakfast, then your parents cover lunch and your best friends pick up the tab at dinner. No one should make you pay for meals on your birthday.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people come crawling out of the woodwork on your special day. People you haven’t seen or heard from in months will call to say happy birthday.The fact that so many people care enough to wish you well on your day largely contributes to making you feel extra special. Every year, as people go out of their way for you, there is the overwhelming feeling that you are truly loved.

This warm fuzziness continues when you check your mailbox. As cheesy as they are, birthday cards from your parents always bring a smile to your face. It is nice to know that no matter how old you are, you will always be their baby.

Since not all birthday cards come via postal service, you also have to check your e-mail. There you will most likely find hilarious e-cards from people who want to wish you a happy day.

But of course, a birthday is not a birthday without a party. Whether it is a small get-together or an event of epic proportions, nothing beats throwing a birthday party or having one thrown for you as a surprise.

With a party comes possibly the best thing about birthdays. Who doesn’t love unwrapping birthday presents? My personal favorite is when people try to trick you by putting something really small in a really large package. Overdone as it may be, wrapping something 22 times is always amusing.

If you opt to go out to your favorite restaurant instead of having a party at home, two great birthday surprises await you. First, there is the birthday cake complete with candles. Then you get to be serenaded by waiters and waitresses as they belt out the happy birthday song or the restaurant’s own rendition.

This year, a huge bunch of birthday balloons were waiting for me at the table my friends reserved. Helium balloons are great because they not only make dinner much more festive, but they also linger in your apartment for days to remind you how much fun the birthday was.

But just when you think your birthday is over and all that remains are a few helium balloons, the last birthday bonus sneaks up on you. There are always a couple people who call or write with belated happy birthday wishes.

So if you never really enjoy your birthday because you don’t like growing older or something always goes wrong to ruin the day, remember all the great benefits of being the birthday boy or girl. It only happens once a year, so live it up.