I love birthdays. :-)
I'm still sort of waiting for the birthday that will stress me out. Various of my friends, on hitting thirty, or thirty-five, or forty, have gotten pretty unhappy. Impending death, body falling apart, lack of professional success, difficulties with their love lives -- somehow all of these get triggered by birthdays for them. So far, that hasn't happened for me. Oh, I am just as capable as the next person of panicking because my body is falling apart and I can't do half the things I used to be able to do, or freaking out because I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be more financially stable and career-secure at this age than I actually am, or even, classically for women in their mid-thirties, wondering whether choosing not to have kids up until this point is something that I'm going to really regret sometime down the road. I can and do have fine old freakouts about those sorts of things, and get upset and weepy and panicked and occasionally raging at the universe.
But somehow, it's never actually on my birthday that this happens. My brain apparently thinks birthdays are not about freaking out. My brain thinks birthdays are for cake and ice cream and presents and e-mails from friends and relative strangers and as many people as possible making a very nice fuss about how happy they are that I'm on the planet. They're about laughter and music and being surrounded by people who think I'm great. :-)
And if I *must* think about impending death, I'm generally just grateful that I'm not dead yet. Perhaps this is where all those fantasy novels (and bits of history I picked up here and there) come in handy; I have a real sense that I'm lucky to be alive. That if I'd been born a few generations earlier, or even now, in a different place, chances are that I'd be dead by now, or close to it. Carried off by disease, by childbirth, by war or crime or simple old age. My grandparents all died in their mid-sixties; there's a part of me that thinks I'm more than halfway through my life already. Of course, given modern medicine and the like, I'm probably only about a third through, but regardless, the thing is, I'm generally just grateful for every day at this point. It feels like a gift to be alive. And birthdays, birthdays are just the perfect way of celebrating and commemorating that gift. With lots and lots of cake! :-)