Birthdays, Love Them or Hate Them?

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If my cake isn’t vanilla, don’t be surprised by my bitter disappointment.

I think my birthday is pretty special.  So special, in fact, that during my working career there has only been one year that I worked on the day of my birth. Every other year I have indulged in a minimum of my birthday off, though most of the time I extend it into a long weekend. (How, you ask.  A Monday birthday requires the previous Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off as well as the subsequent Tuesday. A Tuesday birthday requires the weekend, Monday and Tuesday off. A Wednesday birthday rolls into a premature weekend starting on that day. Get it? Good.)

On particularly significant years I like to spend my birthday on vacation. One milestone birthday was spent in Key West, last year’s festivities included a trip to Ireland. My birthday is probably the one time of year I indulge myself without guilt. It’s like I’m two years old again and the world revolves around me.  Makes me think of my nephew, Jack, who, on being told he was loved one day, said “Everyone loves Jack,” as if I was stupid for not knowing that fact. That’s how my birthdays feel. Everyone loves me and I can do whatever I want.

But, much as I love to pamper myself, I hate any sort of celebration initiated by others. I’ll tolerate a small family birthday party with a cake (but please make it vanilla) and a few presents (but, trust me, I have myself covered birthday-wise, there’s no need for anyone else to even try). I’ll smile and make nice if someone slips and tells the waiter or waitress it’s a birthday celebration, but don’t expect a tip if I get the birthday song or a lone candle on my desert and the attention of other diners.  It makes me uncomfortable.

If you check my Facebook page,you won’t find my birthday listed. I love the option of wishing my friends a happy day, but not so sure how to respond when I’m the one getting well wishes. Do I thank everyone individually? Post a group thank you to my timeline? Graciously accept like the Queen, but make no mention of the fuss? With so many questions tormenting me, it’s easier to let it slip by unnoticed.  Those of you who know when it is, your use of private messages rather than wall will prevent me from having to decide any of the above questions. Thank you.

I  make no judgement on those of you who like a big fuss on your birthday. I know people who do the slightly embarrassed, yet grateful “you shouldn’t have” when entering a surprise party. I’ve worked with those who are genuinely surprised and pleased when a birthday cake appears at the monthly staff meeting. I’ve watched fellow diners react with delight when the entire restaurant staff appears table-side to sing birthday greetings. None of those people are me.

I think of birthdays the same way I think of births. I prefer a quiet, private affair with attendance limited to those few who are directly affected. Though I admire those people who love the public hoopla of birthdays, I’m not one of them, and at this stage of the game, that isn’t going to change.

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