The Oaxacan girl in her red, white, and blue gown insists her dress, while reminiscent of the US flag, is not evidence of malinchism (form of attraction for a culture by a foreigner). However, in exchange for photos, she wants to know about Sweet Sixteen celebrations in the US, if every girl gets a car. I avoid informing her that I did not get my little orange Volkswagen until I was twenty-one. Instead, I focus on the similarities of our rites of passage.

I want to tell her that many Vietnamese celebrate their birth with their brethren at the new year. She needs to know that Jamaicans dust the birthday girl in flour to antique her as the grit of time has. I want to her to know of the Fairy Bread with a galaxy of sprinkles  Australians consume for their fiesta.  I want to remind her that celebrating being alive is something she should learn to do daily.

You must hear Lee Herrick read his poem “How to Spend a Birthday:”

  • Create a birthday tradition and a character that looks forward to that tradition.


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