Celebrating Un-Birthdays

This past year has been topsy-turvy and nonsensical in so many ways. I’ve often felt like Alice in Wonderland, trying to make sense of the surreal.

Books deserve the fanfare of a birthday party when they’re released into the world. After this long year of separation, I need to celebrate with my community of writers and readers. Yet, I still need to keep distant. So, for my latest book, I’ve decided to have an un-birthday party.

The idea of the un-birthday comes from Alice’s conversation with Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s second Alice book Through the Looking Glass. Alice is admiring Humpty Dumpty’s tie, and he tells her it was an un-birthday present:

“What is an un-birthday present?”
“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.”
Alice considered a little. “I like birthday presents best,” she said at last.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty. “How many days are there in a year?”
“Three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.
“And how many birthdays have you?”
“One.”
“…there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents—”
“Certainly,” said Alice.
“And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”

Not much makes sense in Wonderland or through a looking glass, but that logic works on me!

My latest book What Is the Story of Alice in Wonderland? is being released to the world today. I will celebrate its birthday today with my small pod of people over a special meal. But I’ve also decided to celebrate the book’s un-birthday the other 364 days of the year too!

Every time I have a cup of tea, eat a tart, check the time, play cards, look in a mirror, sit at a riverbank, catch sight of a rabbit, read poetry, smell a flower, spot a mushroom, pet a cat, curl up under a tree, sneeze from pepper, dream, or imagine, I’ll think of the readers who might have my book in hand, and we’ll have a connection. These little moments deserve celebration.

Call it a bit of topsy-turvy crazy nonsense—that’s okay. The Cheshire Cat (even though he didn’t have to quarantine) said it best: “We’re all mad here!”

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