First there are the cards – and in these days of social media, if you put your birthday in your own information on Facebook, a variety of friends will comment and wish you a happy birthday. But cards say a lot about the relationship you have with other people, how well they know you. If they don’t know you very well, it will be the bland card with words. If they know you well, it is likely that there will be a theme in pictures on the cards. I like boats and even more I like water (water always appears as the background on the front screen of any computer I own), and so on a recent birthday, it was pleasing to see that most cards had water and boats. My family and friends do know me! But it’s a funny thing isn’t it? We send people cards and, if they are like us, they will go up on the mantlepiece or shelves or windowsills where they will stay for a couple of weeks and then be consigned to the bin. Well, birthdays can’t go on for ever can they; that’s the point, they are the celebration of a specific day.
But more than this, they are an acknowledgement that we have managed to reach a new milestone in life. But that then becomes a problem for some people it seems. I have a friend who nearly had a meltdown when he reached one of the ‘Big-
If a child of age 1 year has a birthday celebration, it’s for the parents! The child has no concept of birthday. By 4 or 5 perhaps they have worked out that talk of birthdays is linked with receiving presents. By 15 they would probably rather receive money to choose what they want. (Let’s not get on to the subject of unwanted presents -
Cards, presents and the dreaded birthday party. I have watched our children with our grandchildren and I have watched other young families. You can probably measure your place on the social scale by the amount of stress birthday parties cause you, the parent. If you don’t have any money, you have a very basic party with sandwiches and jelly or something similar (no, not jelly on sandwiches!!) and send the kids out into the garden to play. Fine. Higher up the middle class social scale you go, you find party bags, other accessories, entertainers and sleepovers, that all come crowding in on you. It is a tough, expensive life being a middle class parent today. Even higher up the scale, trips abroad (with friends) make a neat dent in the bank balance. In the crazy world of today there seem to be two deceptions that have been taken on board by large numbers. The first one is that our children will not love us unless we spend a fortune on them. The second one is that if your child’s friends’ parents are daft enough to get swept along in this tsunami of spending, you must too. Sorry folks, as a mere aging onlooker to all these antics, I feel for you!
While we are passing this point, note another general phenomenon – the ‘party’. I am all for having a bunch of friends around and eating and drinking together, talking or doing whatever else we might want to do together, no problem with that. Call it a ‘party’ and suddenly it takes on a whole new set of pressures – we have got to enjoy ourselves, how did we rate yesterday’s ‘party’? Seriously think about it and see if I’m not right. Call it just ‘a get-
But back to birthdays. There lots of funny and not-
In the fifties it can start to be (once we got over the mid-
Which brings us to the dodgy question of the things that sneak up on you as you age, so that each additional birthday leaves you wondering, what will this next year hold? Things like failing eye-
I’ve also recently sat in on a conversation about buying presents for birthdays. Now there is a nightmare-
I’m not sure I’m excited about either of those thoughts and as you may gather I have never been very excited about birthdays but, hey, I’m not that much of a Scrooge. If you like, I think in my experience, birthdays are great when they create that “Ahhhhh…..” soft feeling of just being loved by family, times when family show appreciation of you. Oh my goodness, birthdays are all about enjoying family! Wow! Didn’t see that one coming! Birthdays are great – we have family and can work on family. But then reality sets in for some for, in the day in which we live, so often there are fragmented families, and so perhaps the opportunities for those of us in the older generations are there to try to rebuild something beautiful instead, and just maybe we might be able to do that by celebrating birthdays. I usually finish with some quotes from the Internet but everything looked trite so here are some of my own:
“Birthdays come once a year – thank goodness.” The Pessimist
“Birthdays come once a year – I can’t wait!” The Optimist.
“Daddy, can I have three birthdays a year?” Your five-
“Your desire for a birthday harps back to your womb experiences.” The Psychologist
“Whatever you do don’t eat sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks, jellies, and ….. what do you mean there’s nothing left? The Nutritionist
“Birthdays? Third ward on the left, dear.” The Receptionist
“Sorry we don’t do birthdays. They went out with the dinosaurs.” The Paleontologist