Happy Birthday, America (And Me)

Written by Desiree Santiago |

“Mom, this year can we have Little Mermaid birthday fireworks? Can the colors be pink?”


This was the start to a tough conversation between my parents and me about my July 3rd birthday party — a very rude awakening for the four-year-old version of me. Being an only child to begin with (no, I am not “spoiled”) you get used to using your imagination and doing some things solo. But isn’t my birthday the one day that it’s supposed to be . . . well, about me? Maybe. But if you’re born on July third, maybe not.


Fast forwarding through the years, I can recall about 12 birthday parties that always followed a certain theme (not mermaid, sigh): red, white and blue. Not to mention that the Old Navy American Flag shirts I’ve racked up over the years could probably make a decent quilt at this point. But who could blame my family members? When the time came, it was not uncommon for them to make up the bulk of my party guests, since classmates tended to be away for the holiday. And don’t get me started on the various other parties I’ve willingly attended throughout college while others basked in my birthday glow (barbecues, engagement celebrations, going away parties, you name it…)


Eventually, I learned to take advantage of the situation, and “DesiPalooza” (my first PR campaign!) was born. Instead of trying to plan one day around everyone’s vacations and holiday schedules, I deemed July a 31-day opportunity to celebrate with different groups of friends all month long. You can bet if this hadn’t been before the time of hashtags, it would have made for a robust Instagram feed.


27-ish years later I’ve learned to accept the fact that the number of “happy birthday” messages on my Facebook wall will always pale in comparison to those of you born in February; and I may or may not still be holding out for mermaid fireworks. On the up side, consistently having the day after your birthday off from work never gets old.