Your Birthday

What do you want from your birthday? What do your loved ones want from theirs?

Posted May 16, 2016

Timothy Tsui, CC 2.0
Source: Timothy Tsui, CC 2.0

Many of us spend our birthdays and other events as society expects us to: special dinner, throw a party, etc. But if you didn't care what the norm was, what would you do?

Do you view your birthday as just another day or an opportunity for gratitude that you made it through another year?

Or do you see your birthday as a time to reflect on your past, perhaps to trigger a new goal? If so, might you want to start now?

Should your next birthday or "big"  birthday be a time for a party or trip? Or would more than a private prayer of gratitude be self-indulgent? After all, you did nothing to earn your birthday, unlike, for example, your graduation, anniversary, or job promotion.

Think back to your past birthdays, even those in childhood. For example, perhaps one year, your parents threw you an all-out party complete with a magician and jumpy house, and all the kids came and cheered you. You felt really special and the fond memory lasted. Or perhaps your most vivid birthday memory was the year your parents finally threw you a party but only a few kids came to what ended up a sober affair, with the only glee manufactured by your parents, whereupon you cried. Or for your 40th birthday, you took your best friend on a cruise and had the time of your life. Or you did the cruise but when you disembarked, it felt empty. Think about times you had a more reflection-centered birthday, or one that you simply let pass virtually unnoticed.

In light of all this, how might you like to mark your next birthday or “big” birthday?

And, knowing your loved ones as you do, how might you want to help them celebrate or not? For example, let's say your spouse is a materialist extrovert who loves to celebrate birthdays and would welcome a lavish surprise party. Meanwhile, you're a simple-living introvert who feels that birthdays--except perhaps milestone ones--should be treated much like any other day. What might you do: Capitulate on his/her special day? Compromise and throw a modest non-surprise birthday party? Give a thoughtful small present and card and let your spouse take charge of any party, trip, etc?

More broadly, how might you like to mark your and loved ones' other major events?

Marty Nemko’s bio is in Wikipedia. His new book, his 8th, is The Best of Marty Nemko.