Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Another Year Older and Deeper in Thankfulness

By: George Lee Cunningham

George Mug finalSome people are born on important days and some are born on days that will someday be important and sometimes they are born on important days but they have birthdays that only intersect with those important days once in a while.

An example. George Washington was born on Feb. 22, 1732, which was not very important at the time, but became so after he was elected to be the first President and Congress declared it a National Holiday. Another example, I have a friend who was born on Sept. 11. Not a big deal until 2001, when it became a day that will be remembered forever. Now her birthday is better known as the day the Twin Towers came crashing down and the world changed forever.

Other people are born on days that were of import when they were born and remain so every year. An example of that would be people who are born on Christmas Day. These folks always seem to feel a little cheated because they don’t get a separate celebration for their birthday. On the other hand, I have a sister-in-law who was born on Jan. 1, and she thought until she was 9 or 10 years old that the Rose Parade was a celebration of her birthday. Between you and me, I think she still harbors that thought.

My, how we love to lie to little children.

Then there are the people who are born on odd days, such as Feb. 29, which only comes around once every four years when it happens to be a leap year. They have to endure everybody making jokes about how when they turn 36, they are really only nine years old. Probably funny the first couple of hundred times they hear it.

Me, I was born on Thanksgiving. Yep, I was a Thursday child, but my birthday isn’t always on a Thursday. It’s just once in a while that my birthday intersects with Thanksgiving. This happens to be one of those years. You might think it would be a regular occurrence, like the folks born on Feb. 29, who get a birthday every four years.

But you see, it’s the leap years that mess it up. Divide a 365-day year by a seven-day week and you get 52 weeks and one day. Once every four years, divide a 366-day year by a seven-day week and you get 52 weeks at two days. When that happens, it skips a day and sometimes that day is a Thursday, although most times it’s not.

After I was born, I had to wait six years until my birthday was on Turkey Day again, then 11 years, then six years, then five years, and then six, then 11, then six, then five, then six, and now 11 years. My last birthday on Thanksgiving was in 2002.

By this time, you may be wondering, why in hell am I telling you all this. It’s so that you can wish me a Wonderful Thanksgiving AND a Happy Birthday, of course.

You won’t get another chance – God willing – until 2019.

George Cunningham and his wife Carmela are writing a history of the Port of Long Beach. You can order George’s novel, Kaboom, at


  1. Thank you Laura. I had a wonderful birthday, except I ate too much and instead of a cake, I had a birthday pie.

  2. Laura Kovary says:

    Happy Belated Birthday George! Wishing you many more, including your next Thanksgiving Birthday!
    All the best,

  3. You have my sympathies. Not only was one birthday forever marked – Sept. 11, 2001 – but each one after that is a reminder. Since you can’t change what happened that day, perhaps you should just change your birthday to a new date. If people can change their names, I see no reason they can’t change their birth date. How about the Fourth of July – which is always a happy date?

  4. It sounds like life is really exciting for you two, and it sounds like a wonderful trip. Unfortunately, Carmela and I are knee-deep in the history book we are writing for the Port of Long Beach. It is really an intriguing project, but way more time-consuming than we ever thought. We are in the keep-your-nose-to-the-grindstone mode. We hope to make this a book that is easy to read and enjoyable as well as a reference for future historians. Exciting stuff. I would love to her more about you Chinese daughter and your teen-age daughter. You will have to tell us all about it next time our paths cross.

  5. Yvonne says:

    Loved your story, George. Hope you had a happy birthday and Thanksgiving. Thanks for the reference to my birthday, which is unfortunately, a very bad day to celebrate anything.

  6. So, here’s wishing post hoc that you had a happy birthday and fabulous Thanksgiving, George! Sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat much last week at Marianne’s retirement party. You look well, and a bit like Antonio Ruiz in your photo with this story!

    My own birthday sometimes fallson Mother’s Day…and I won’t tell you of the year my entire family FORGOT! My sister, 16 months younger, was born on Sept 11 but died at age 28, years before THE Sept 11…it is always a doubly sad day for me.

    We’re celebrating Thanksgiving by being at a beach resort in St. Maarten in the Caribbean–so beautiful I can hardly take my eyes off the water! At home, our Chinese “daughter” is being baby-sat by her aunt from Qingdao–yes, we are parents again, this time for a 17-year-old going to St. Anthony’s. She is thriving and still growing, nearly a head taller than me–what a surprise! But she helps us see our own culture now through her lens, and she gives us great insight into Chinese culture, too.

    Next spring our LB-Qingdao Association will sponsor a trip to Qingdao & Shanghai, partly to see the “Long Beach Garden” at the International Horticultural Expo in Qingdao–why don’t you and Carmella consider going along with us? Let me know if you are interested! And keep writing!!

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