Why I don't celebrate my birthday
I am often called a grumpy old man for not wanting to celebrate my birthday and here are just some of the reasons why I take this approach
A grumpy old man
As my birthday approaches I become a grumpy old man. At least that is what most of the people close to me think and who am I to dissuade them from this view? And what has caused them to reach this opinion? The answer is quite simple really. I do not celebrate my birthday and they all find this quite disturbing. There are no cards on the mantle, no banners on the wall. In fact there is nothing in the house to show that today is another milestone in my life, another year gone by.
So why do I not celebrate my birthday? I could come up with a thousand flippant reasons for this, such as I am on the wrong side of the life clock, closing rapidly in on ‘midnight and goodbye’, or that such celebrations are a waste of money and energy, but in truth there are far more fundamental reasons. I do not shy away from celebrating my birthday either because I have a problem with cleaning up the mess that is left afterwards nor because I am as people say, just a grumpy old man. It is more because of my personal perceptions and feelings about the day itself.
One thing that really irritates and annoys me about birthdays, although maybe it should not, is the cards and messages from relatives who only ever bother to contact me on this one day of the year. Those cards, with terse messages or words that have been written by someone else, can be meaningless and cold with no hint of affection. It is even worse when you know that sometimes it is only done because of a misplaced sense of duty. I have one particular sibling whose wife writes out all of the birthday cards for the year early in January and checks the calendar each month to see which ones need to be sent off. As far as I am concerned they need not bother for me. If I am important and mean something to these relatives, this should be apparent throughout the year, not just on one day.
Another reason I shy away from birthday celebrations is because of the frustrating habit many people have of bringing up the age old comments as you reach certain ages. For instance, at eighteen or twenty-one you are supposed to get the key of the door? What door? I was not presented with such a key. At thirty it is time to settle down and at forty, why are you not married? Is there some law that says I have to be?
After that milestone, comments usually become more pointed, inconsiderate and thoughtless. For example, at fifty the comment at least one person is likely to make is "not long to your pension," and sixty brings "soon have a free bus pass" and so they go on. For goodness sake, please keep these thoughts to yourself. I am quite happy with where I am in life and do not want to be constantly reminded that the years I have to spend on this earth are disappearing at an ever increasing rate.
A birthday tale
This seeming fixation with what you have to look forward too at birthday time brings back a story someone once told me or something I read. Actually it was more like a proverb. The tale, which is based on the biblical notion that we live for three score years and ten, goes as follows:
When you reach the age of twenty the law of the bible says that you will have two thousand six hundred weekends left to experience and enjoy on this earth. You should therefore put that number of marbles in a jar and pick one out at the end of each subsequent weekend. The moral of the story in this case was that, when picking out the marble, you should reflect on how well you had acted during the previous week and how much enjoyment you have gained and given. It the result of your deliberations is not positive, you should resolve to do better during the time remaining as represented by the marble left in the jar.
Birthday cards remind me of this story. Not so much because of the moral aspect but simply because every time a card arrives it serves as a reminder that another fifty-two marbles have been spent. Personally, I prefer to just open my eyes each morning and enjoy the day for what it is and brings. Do I want to wake up to be reminded that another year or decade has gone by? No Thanks! Please leave me with my blissful life of taking each day at a time and enjoying it without worrying about how much future there is left or reminders of a past that has flowed beneath the bridge of life, never to be recaptured.
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Other articles that may be of interest:
Death of an estranged father
Maintaining friendships as an introvert
When someone dies and there is no time to say goodbye