Unbelievable as it may seem, I find myself looking down the barrel of my 50th birthday in the middle of June. I'm still not sure how that happened, but in the normal order of the universe, who does not die grows older. (Put that in your fortune cookie and eat it.)
Over the years--many, many years--I've wanted a lot of goodies for my birthday. I don't know exactly when the want came up, but of course, it may have been amplified by the ads I was subjected to during the cartoon shows I watched every Saturday morning. Mainly, though, those ads were for toys and breakfast cereal (too little too late, I'd already eaten by the time I settled in for a long morning with the electronic babysitter).
When I was maybe 5-10 years old, I wanted a swing set in my yard. In fact, we briefly rented a house that had one, but I really don't recall spending much time on it. I knew then that there are parks all over the place, but the nearest swings were located behind my grammar school. And who wants to spend any more time in the schoolyard than absolutely necessary? Another plus would have been that everyone would've wanted to come over to our house all the time. Of course, my folks took care of that possibility when they installed a pool in the back yard.
Also around that time, closer to ten than to five, I wanted, and got, a Malibu Barbie doll. Rapture! She was awesome, with summer-blond hair, almost-normal boobs, and a permanent tan (from all that surfing, no doubt). I used to wash and comb her fake hair all the time; it never occurred to me that since she wasn't actually alive, the only way her hair could have gotten dirty would be if I made it that way. It's amazing how you sometimes pick toys that are the opposite of what you are: womanly vs. girlish; tan vs. pale; blonde vs. brunette (God, how I wanted to be a blonde!); athletic vs chubby.
At the opposite end of the fun scale, I wanted both a chemistry set and a rock tumbler when I was maybe eight. I can see now why I never got either one: the chemistry set was probably viewed as an invitation to blow things up, and it's likely that the rock tumbler made too much noise. It's the same rationale you'd use when you'd refuse to get your kid a drum kit, no matter how talented he/she is: the goddamn noise!
As the years passed, many times my fondest wish was for some LP or other. My mom, who abhorred rock music as a whole, and from whom I had to hide any new purchases if they were musical in theme, would gladly purchase me whatever I wished...as long as it was a gift. Apparently, it was a waste of money if I spent it, but not if she did. Hmmmm...I never did quite understand that logic.
When I was turning 19 and in college, all I wanted that year was an SLR camera. They have these now in a digital version, of course; but mine was an old-school manual SLR that needed a separate flash, telephoto lenses, and all those goodies. I remember the day I looked at with my folks in our local department store, longing for it, but they wouldn't break down and buy the damn thing, no matter how I pleaded.
The entire day of my birthday, I sulked, convinced they'd blown it and had forgotten what I wanted. But at dinner, there it was. I took hundreds of pictures with it over the next few years and took it everywhere, even to Italy when I did a summer there. Some years ago, the light meter got dislodged, and I had to stop using it. Sadly, I've never had it repaired, and it's somewhere in my house now, gathering dust in its case. But the beautiful pictures I made live on, proving to my kids (and myself) that I once had a life.
Fast-forward to now: I'm a working wife and mom of two. Sometimes I get flowers, sometimes not; sometimes I get jewelry, mostly not. Many years we'll go out to dinner. With my husband's work schedule, a dinner out with him is a rare treat indeed. More so if it's just the two of us.
So...what do I want now? At this point in my life, the wants aren't always so easily or cheaply satisfied. For example, since I have a 60-mile daily commute round-trip, I need a newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle. I'd love a new front-loading washer-dryer pair; our old appliances are getting tired after nearly twenty years, and the washer usually requires two spin cycles before the clothes are properly wrung out. It's mostly just annoying. And of course, I'd prefer a bigger house (and the money to pay someone to clean it), because our rooms just don't have the storage that they should.
But, since you can't have everything (nor should you, I have discovered), I'll be happy to take what I have, try hard to work for what I need, and hold out with my old car for as long as possible. Unless, of course, someone feels that they need to get me one. That, or the washer-dryer pair. Maybe you can get a deal.