06/20/2012 02:47 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

When we were kids and our birthday was right around the corner, we wanted everything we could get our greedy little hands on: bikes, Barbies, video games, basically aisle 12 of Toys R Us. And as we got older, we started redefining our list: We wanted a car at 16, independence at 18 and the ability to drink ourselves blind at the age of 21.

But after 21, what do we wish for anymore? Love? Marriage? A kick-ass job? All the things that we are expected to have and also expect from ourselves. We want so much to gain the next step in life, and sometimes wishing on birthday candles isn't going to cut it anymore.

For the most part, we envision the perfect gift all wrapped up in a beautiful bow, a total surprise and something we've always envisioned but never imagined we ever get. Sometimes we build it up to such a degree that we wind up disappointed with the end result.

Disappointments are a part of life: losing love, jobs, things we want desperately, disputes with family members that cause major riffs and hurt feelings and suddenly important moments don't have as much meaning anymore when everyone you love doesn't want to be involved anymore. It makes for a lousy birthday.

This year will be my third birthday without my substitute grandmother, the woman who raised me and was there for every moment of my life from birth right up until the year I got sick, when she suddenly dropped out of my life and our relationship became non-existent. We haven't spoken in three years. That's three Christmases and three birthdays, not a word, and it hurts, much worse than anything I've ever imagined, and because of that, I don't want any DVDs or books for my birthday like I have before, but just to see her and talk to her again. But in order to do that, we'd both have to put aside our stubborn streaks and hurt feelings, which will never happen...

That's my grownup birthday wish. The kid inside me wants a new stereo for my car. I have a feeling that my kid wish will happen before my grownup birthday wish.

What did you want for a gift as a kid? As an adult? Have you gotten it, or did you have to get it yourself?