I've got this Amazon Photos app on my phone because that's where my dad uploads the pictures he takes. It has this cool feature that shows the pictures taken on this day in the past. Today is my 18th birthday, and the app shows me all of the photos that have been taken on my birthday throughout the years. I'm going to write a short reflection on each of these days, reflecting on the birthdays of my childhood. I can't share the photos themselves, but they shouldn't be necessary. They're more of a jumping off point than anything else.
2019 doesn't have any pictures. Neither does 2011 or 2003. I understand 2011, as I was turning 9, not a very eventful age, but 2019 was after my dad started taking pictures of everything, and 2003 was my first birthday ever. This isn't a complaint, I have pictures of my birthday parties for those years, but they were just held on others days. This is more of an observation.
2018 was my 16th birthday, a pretty big year. I don't remember if my birthday party was before or after my actual birthday, but I remember enjoying it very much. We had a cowboy themed poker tournament. I think I got either 2nd or 3rd, but the winner, my grandmother, gave me the prize money anyways. My actual birthday wasn't as eventful, although the pictures showed me wearing a cowboy hat, so there was still something of a cowboy theme going on. I opened some presents from my immediate family, including an art-book for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which I remember looking through with great excitement before seeing the movie. This party served as my saying goodbye to cowboy parties, which my brother and I have had a lot of in our childhood. This year I'm having a Star Wars themed birthday party for the second year in a row. I don't think I'll ever say goodbye to that.
2017 doesn't have any pictures of me on my birthday, but there are pictures of other members of my family getting ready to go swimming. May 28th has pictures of my actual birthday party. The gift I got that is most prominently featured is my director's chair. That year was probably the peak of my filmmaking aspirations, and my directors chair embodied that. Now my directors chair is a place for me to put stuff I don't have room in my closet for.
2016 was a birthday I had in Disney World. It's a pretty awesome place to have a birthday. We went to Hollywood Studios that day, since I was really passionate about movies then. I got to ride a lot of fun rides that day. I also got to see my brothers in the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, my second favorite show at Disney after the original Jedi Training. They don't like it as much as me, but they did it to make me happy. To finish the day off we ate at 50's Prime Time Cafe, one of my top three restaurants in Disney. We sat next to a guy who told his girlfriend his favorite word was “bivouac,” which he defined as hitting something away in a different direction. That's not what that word means. Recently I was reading Prince Caspian, the 4th book in the Chronicles of Narnia, and that word was used quite frequently to describe where the main characters were sheltering. A bivouac is a temporary camp that doesn't have cover. He had no idea what he was talking about.
2015 marked the beginning of my teenage years. My birthday party was on my actual birthday this year, so that's pretty cool. I also got a kilt as a present. I've worn that kilt a lot now, mostly when my family has been going to the Medieval Fair. It's a silly thing, but I enjoy it.
2014 was possibly my last really kids party. It was medieval themed, and everyone got to make their own wooden sword. We also had sword fights, jousting, and other activities. I wore my cheap fabric faux chain mail armor and coif carrying a wooden sword and shield with me nearly the whole day. Nowadays my birthday parties aren't nearly that fun.
2013 was a birthday I had at Johnnies. That's was a pretty common place of celebration for my family due to the party room they had in the back, but more recently its fallen out of favor. Better burger places have sprung up, and different Johnnies locations are closing all around us. Personally, up until recently I haven't enjoyed their burgers very much, but I'm still sad to see them go. A very large part of my childhood took place there, as stupid as it sounds. But everything gets older as time goes on, and we have to let memories be just that.
2012 I went to Ted's Cafe Escondido for my birthday. This is a restaurant that serves a similar position to Johnnies but is still doing pretty good. The reason we went on my birthday though was because they sing a song and give you a sombrero if its your birthday. One time we went on my dad's birthday and they sang to him, and he absolutely hated it. Since then every time we went I made a joke about it being his birthday to the waiter. When they did it to me on my birthday I really enjoyed it. I'd hate it now though.
2010 was when I had a military birthday I had outside in the Oklahoma sun. I only remember how hot it was.
2009 was the year I went to Great Wolf Lodge for my birthday. I've always loved going to Great Wolf Lodge, both for the swimming areas and the Magi Quest. This year was probably the peak of my love for it, but last year that love was rekindled when we went for Benji's birthday. That was really fun, and I got super into Magi Quest again, doing the entire thing in a single day and even beating Charlock the Red Dragon. It's not the same as it was. Nothing is as you get older.
2008 saw me at a birthday party with my school friends. I've stopped doing this as time has gone by. I feel embarrassed to make my birthday a big deal for my friends, so I don't really do anything. Birthdays have always been more of a familial thing to me, but as I get older I wish I hadn't been that way.
2007 only has pictures of my playing with my brother Benji. He would have only been one at the time. The day before I had my Legend of Zelda birthday party. Unlike many of the other themes for my parties, I haven't enjoyed the Legend of Zelda as much throughout my life. But when I was five it was my favorite thing ever.
2006 I went to the pool with my family for my birthday. A few days before I had my pirate birthday. I had a pirate ship bouncy thing for my birthday, and that was awesome. Whenever you're little its so much easier for things to be impressive. Everything is just bigger.
2005 was when I had a Thomas and Friends Birthday party. That was probably one of the first things I loved to watch that I had to say goodbye to. Unlike Westerns and Star Wars there aren't any adults who still watch Thomas. But when I was three I had the best Thomas birthday of all time.
2004 has lots of pictures of me playing with all sorts of new toys. The ones I remember liking the most were the trains that I got. I could play with my trains for hours. But since I was only two, I don't remember much else from that day.
May 29th 2002 was the day I was born. This event kinda marked the beginning of my dad's photography hobby as he had gotten his new camera the night before. It's weird going through family pictures as a result, because there are no pictures from before I was born (excluding the six or so pictures my dad took the night before). Every time my family sits down to go through pictures, I get to see all of these different things I've done in my life. My siblings haven't been able to do that, as there are plenty of pictures from before they were born. My parents haven't been able to do that either, since they don't have nearly as many pictures from their childhood. I'm glad I have all these pictures to remember my childhood, my life wouldn't be the same without them.
- Ethan Silvernail