Let’s pretend I didn’t use “birthday” as a verb, and move on, okay? It’s weirdly appropriate in this case, but I know such a slip can be triggering for my grammar-faithful friends.
Husband’s birthday was this week, and he wasn’t in a great mood. In fact, he didn’t really want to celebrate his birthday much at all. As an adult, he gets to choose how his birthday wants to be. Except…Well, I find it hard to understand why a celebration might not be a good thing in a dark time.
My sisters and I were allowed two birthday parties as kids, at ages five and…I want to say ten. (Though I recall having birthday sleepovers later on.) We weren’t a pony-ride and bouncy-house type family. In fact, few families were up until the last decade or so. But the parties were memorable, with birthday hats and cake and games, which usually devolved into outdoor free-for-alls until the parents came to retrieve their kids. Among kids, birthday invitations were liable to be rescinded or bestowed depending on the mood of the kid holding the party. Plans were made and unmade, alliances were formed. It was all so serious. Such drama! Is it any wonder that some adults would just rather not bother?
Still, I believe we need celebrations. Keeping one’s head down, sticking to the routine, ad nauseam, becomes truly…nauseating. Everyone needs to feel special sometimes, or else we simply become drones. Does that sound too precious? I would say it’s only human.
Birthdays are a chance to celebrate each other just for existing. It’s as simple as that. I’ve heard all the arguments about it just being another day in the year, another trip around the sun. Who cares? But I would argue that if we stop taking moments to allow ourselves to be celebrated, we will stop celebrating others as well. How do you feel when someone goes beyond Facebook to wish you a Happy Birthday, or to see how you’re doing? There’s still a huge greeting card industry out there. I find that heartening. Even just the acknowledgement inherent in a card is a lovely thing. It tells us that someone took time to select it, sign it, and send it. That takes time and effort. What a lovely gift of someone’s time.
I used to be more creative about celebrations. I took advantage of days like Groundhog Day. And I adore Valentine’s Day (not Galentine’s Day–that drives me nuts). The first day of school. The last day of school. The last day of summer. Any excuse was an excuse for a celebration. But, really, I wasn’t celebrating Groundhogs, or school, or summer. Celebrations are about people. About looking into their hearts to see where their joy lies, and helping that joy grow.
If you don’t celebrate yourself, I understand. Many of us have been trained to think it’s a selfish act. But it’s not selfish. It’s human. So go forth and celebrate your favorite human, just because he or she is there. Celebrate, even if it’s just you. You are important. You are unique.
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