It was my second year in college, and I'd been working my ass off to pay the bills- I had three jobs, no free time, and and a bank account that barely teetered above "zero", even on my multiple paydays.
Christmas break was just an opportunity to work more - celebrating my birthday, or Christmas, seemed like an exhausting waste of time. I had homework to do, money to earn, and no energy for decorating the house or even sharing a beer.
So on my 30th birthday, I got to celebrate by waiting tables until almost midnight, then walked home through the snow, too tired to even share a shift drink with my coworkers at the restaurant. In fact, I hadn't even told anyone it was my birthday.
The house was dark when I walked up, which made me faintly angry. Granted, my boyfriend was often thoughtless, but if he was out with friends on MY birthday, he could have at least told me. I could see Christmas trees twinkling in other houses up and down the street, and again, I felt irritated at the boyfriend's lack of initiative - I loved Christmas, but why did I always have to get the tree? This year, it was just out of the question. I'm sure I sighed, standing outside my front window in the dark. It was depressing. What a way to start a new decade in my life.
I walked into the dark kitchen, dropped my things on a chair, and was getting ready to walk into the dark living room when I heard the boyfriend say "Honey-?"
Puzzled, I cocked my head, wondering why he was sitting in the living room in the dark. Then the lights came on, but not the usual lights. Christmas lights of every shape and color and were strung extragantly over every surface of the huge living room - the walls, beams, staircase, bookshelves, and best of all, a Christmas tree! A room full of friends was suddenly illuminated in every color of the rainbow. Birthday gifts were piled under the tree. My mouth fell open in wonder, and tears filled my eye just as the word "Surprise!" filled my ears.
Best birthday ever.