Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Birthday Festival

venue for one family birthday celebration
What is a birthday? According to the OED, it is “The anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and the giving of gifts”. According to a friend of mine, the whole month in which his birthday falls should be treated as an occasion for celebration – a festival, in fact. I’m not sure if he feels that should happen for everyone, or just him?



We recently celebrated the birthdays of one sister and Mum
 - cake tasted fantastic!
My family are more into the understated type of celebration – a phone call is usually made on the actual birthday, but a card, if sent, will rarely arrive on time, or even in the same month. Gifts tend to be given on an ad hoc basis. This is not simply something that has developed as we have all gotten older, as I think we have all been like it for many years. I don’t know why. I wonder how it started?

Just because I am part of this family and also follow the family “tradition” of understated celebration, doesn’t mean I have to like it. Well, not all of it, anyway. I am a definite fan of the giving of gifts that are ad hoc.
Aboriginal stencil art - found on a walk we did
on Les' birthday getaway

What it means is that any gifts that are given are not just things bought because there was a birthday and something had to be given. The gifts are given because something was seen or thought of for that particular person, so it was given then – why wait for a birthday as a reason to give it? Why not give it right then? Sometimes this happens to coincide with someone’s birthday – but more often than not, it doesn’t. And why give something unsuitable or unwanted, just because a birthday has occurred?



Birthday fun!
And here is the part I’m not a fan of. By taking an understated approach to celebrating a birthday, it can be interpreted as lack of interest, lack of feeling, being forgotten. That may not be what is real, but it can easily be what is perceived. And I don’t like that.

So I started a little rebellion. For several years now, I’ve made a concerted effort to make hand-made birthday cards for people, and get them into the mail so they arrive as close as possible, but still prior to, the actual birthday. And these are real cards, not e-cards. I haven’t always been successful. In fact, I am writing this in the knowledge that the birthday cards to one sister and my mother will be late. And I will slip-up in the future, but I will continue to try.

Secret Creek - for Les' birthday lunch
At this point in my life, I do count the number of years for some anniversaries, like since marriage and since retirement. I no longer need to count the number of birthdays I have had, although I will readily admit to how many, if asked. But I do still get a nice warm feeling inside when someone remembers when it is, and treats it as “an occasion for celebration”. Les and I do that for each other, and that makes me happy.


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