Originally on 5 Things I Learned – February 16, 2011. I wrote this for my friend’s birthday…and since today is my birthday. I thought it would be cool to re-release it today.
1. Friends have figured out that I have a signature birthday greeting:
Happy (insert person’s name here)-day!
My birthday is my day! It’s my day to celebrate me the way I want to celebrate that day. Last year, I wanted to celebrate my birthday by myself. I know it’s hard to believe but it was one of the best birthdays ever. The year before that, I celebrated my birthday with my office mates and our major partner. The year before that with my family and loved ones… The point it, I try to figure out what I consider to be celebrating my birthday and I celebrate my day. On my birthday, I have an untenable frame of mind that nothing, and I mean NOTHING is going to make my birthday suck!
That’s what I want to communicate when I greet people Happy (Name)-day! It’s your day, celebrate it how you want to celebrate it.
Aside: Since people have caught on I’ve been thinking of a different greeting? Any suggestions?
2. The relationship of # of years alive vs. birthday celebrated and age confuses me.
A baby is born on day 1…when the baby reaches day 365/366, he/she would have already been alive for 1 year. It is his/her 1st birthday/birth anniversary. Beginning day 365/366 until day 729/730, baby is referred to as 1 year old. His/her age is 1 (one), it is currently his/her 2nd year of life. When he/she reaches day 730/731, it will be his/her 2nd birthday/birth anniversary. He/she will be entering into his/her 3rd year of life.
But I guess saying how many full years you’ve lived (years old – age) is much easier than what year of life you are currently living.
3. I have a hunch that at least once in their adult lives, people want to experience a birthday party being thrown for them (whether its a surprise or not).
As children, our parents planned and took care of our parties…but as we get older by our teenage years and when we are adults-if we want a party we have to make it happen ourselves…that is unless someone throws us a surprise party.
Most often the difference between an regular birthday party and the surprise party is that in the former the celebrant is often the one making it happen-inviting guests, ensuring adequate food supply, etc. He/she has to worry about it. Whereas in the latter the celebrant is (or at least should be) clueless about the preparations, logistics, etc. and no effort is required from him/her because someone else made it happen.
It’s the “someone else made it happen because they love me and want me to feel special” aspect of surprise parties that celebrants appreciate! More than just helping a loved one with a party, throw a party for them. Don’t let them do anything except enjoy the celebration.
4. I am glad you were born and that you are still alive.
Birthdays are an opportunity for us to express to the celebrant how different our lives would be if he/she weren’t born and if he/she hadn’t lived so long. Birthday’s mark a year of life that has been lived. There are definitely a lot of memories (hopefully good ones) to celebrate.
5. Birthdays are an opportunity to start afresh.
Imagine a life without any ‘life markers’ that signify ends and beginnings – like birthdays-end of year 24 start of year 25, or new years-end of 2010 start of 2011, or seasons changing-spring to summer… and the like. Though technically we can ‘start afresh’ anytime we want to…it seems easier to some extent to make changes in our lives when there are clear transitions such as the events above. I think it has something to do with the psychological ritual of letting go of the past and being open to the future.
Every birthday is another chance to start a new hoping that our next year of life will be more than the one we are celebrating.