ENCINITAS — When Catherine Blakespear sent out invitations to her upcoming birthday bash, some of her friends were puzzled.
“Some people asked me, ‘Was my daughter’s name Catherine?’” Blakespear said. “Because they couldn’t understand why I would be inviting them to a 10th birthday party.”
No, Blakespear’s daughter is not named Catherine. It is the councilwoman who is turning the big 1-0 Feb. 29.
Blakespear, 39, is one of about 187,000 Americans and more than 4 million people worldwide who are born on the additional day that falls every four years on the modern calendar. This means that Blakespear has only been able to celebrate her birthday nine times thus far in her life.
And that is fine with her. It makes the birthday celebrations that much more special.
“I have never felt disadvantaged by not having a birthday every four years,” she said. “I have heard of people who don’t like it, but I’ve always liked it. When I join a new sports team and I am asked to say something interesting about myself, that is my go-to factoid.”
One of the reasons she likes it, Blakespear explained, is that her friends and family don’t suffer from “birthday fatigue.”
“I think people actually prefer to celebrate a birthday every for years, so it’s, like, the perfect amount of time between birthdays,” Blakespear said. “So I try to do something bigger every four years, and do something much more low-key on the other years.”
Take, for example, Blakespear’s “7th” — 28th — birthday. Blakespear and friends, who at the time didn’t have children, threw an ‘80s-themed party fit for a 7-year-old, complete with a big piñata, 80s clothes and Rick Springfield music.
Blakespear, whose daughter is 8, said she probably would pass on a novelty party like that today.
“Now that I have a 7-year-old, it wouldn’t be funny because I go to so many of them,” Blakespear said of daughter’s birthday parties.
There are times when having a birthday on Leap Day can cause confusion. For example, during Blakespear’s first year in office, she noticed that the City Council assistant did not give her a card on her birthday, which is the office custom.
“Because my birthday is on Leap Year, it didn’t show up last year, so her calendar didn’t generate a reminder,” Blakespear said. “It was OK, I understood.”
The other question that comes up during non-Leap Years is when should her friends acknowledge her birthday. Blakespear said the split runs about 50/50 between those who celebrate it on Feb. 28 and those who wish her “Happy Birthday” on March 1.
Blakespear doesn’t mind either.
“I like having two days,” she said.
But this year — as is the case nine other times — Blakespear has her birthday, and she is planning a big blowout for this Leap Year: an invitation-only crawfish boil for all of her friends from her various spheres of her life.
“I know when some people turn 40, they go on retreats or they do something with close friends, but I feel like I have an engaged life,” Blakespear said. “I am involved with so many circles, from being on the council to being a lawyer to being an active parent at my children’s school, I wanted to have something that could bring all of those people together that I like.”
She intends to also open a bottle of wine she received as a gift on her “9th” birthday with instructions to save it until the next Leap Year.
“Turning 10 is a pretty big one,” she said. “After all, I am finally in double digits.”