Having a Birthday, eh? An odd subject to review. Everybody Has a Birthday, whether Having one is Recommended or Not.
Or do they? If someone’s date of birth is not known, do they still Have a Birthday? What about the Queen, who reportedly has two? Or twins, who share a birthday? Does that mean they only have half a birthday each?
I considered reviewing “Celebrating a Birthday”. However, Celebrating a Birthday is not a universal human experience. One can come up with all sorts of reasons why someone’s birthday might never be celebrated. I myself am in the fortunate position of having had only had one or two birthdays that were not celebrated. Incidentally, having a birthday that is not celebrated is Not Recommended, but having a birthday that is not celebrated is different to Celebrating a Birthday, and neither of those are the subject of this review.
Anyhow, I recently Had a Birthday, well, within the last year at least (haha), and it led me to reflect on birthdays, and what it means to have one. I have had a large enough number of birthdays (no, I’m not going to tell you how many) to be in a position to look at them in the collective, and overall, I conclude that having a birthday is recommended, at least by me.
Birthdays are about connecting. Because my Date of Birth is special to me, it leads me to connect with a handful of people who share my Date of Birth, whose presence, let alone birthday, I wouldn’t otherwise routinely think of. There’s the ritual of birthday cards, which I used to dismiss, but as I got older I saw birthday cards as less of a hassle (dammit! their birthday was two days ago and I still haven’t found a stamp!) and more of an opportunity, to tell someone that you care about them, that their special day is more special than a Facebook message to you, too.
Birthdays are an opportunity to celebrate. My birthday is in mid-winter, at a time many people view as gloomy and dominated by post-Christmas restraint and Blue Mondays.
I am there with a cheerful expression, to remind them that despite the greyness of the sky there can be colour in our moods as we light candles and share a special meal. Big Birthdays can be marked with Big Celebrations, and birthdays that you’d prefer to observe only with a passing nod can be noted in that fashion. You are even free to ignore your birthday entirely, should you so choose, although doing so does not halt the passing of time. But for an excuse to spend time with friends and loved ones you can’t beat a birthday. If you’re not having one, someone else will be.
I am fond of birthdays, of anniversaries and dates, and milestones and navel-gazing and contemplating of the nature of time. But more than that, I believe that our relationships with others are what makes us human, so I Recommend Having a Birthday to you and to your loved ones, not because of the presents, cards, and candles nor the anxiety that increasing each year as your birthday approaches and you remember that you are Getting Old. I Recommend Having a Birthday as an opportunity to connect with others, to remember that we are All In This Together, and to cheer each other up along the way.