Birthdays were never a big thing in my family. Another year of the earth making it around the sun, or the moon making it around the earth: didn’t seem worth celebrating.
When my birthday came again this year, I wasn’t bothered. Nothing special. Not a public holiday (yet) and I don’t mind working on my birthday anyway. So much ado about nothing.
Against my hardened cynicism, I found myself grateful and happy on my birthday this year.
What I understood for the first time is that birthdays aren’t really about celebrating the birthday. Birthdays are about the joy that comes from recognising the wonderful, diverse, talented, joyous people that have crossed your path. From remembering all the good moments, high, first times and old memories.
I was the fortunate recipient from an overwhelming outpouring of warm wishes. By facetime, phone, video message, email, sms, whatsapp and facebook wall / chats I got many many happy birthdays, kind congratulations, best wishes, hopes for a good day and kind wishes for a year ahead.
These wishes came not only from the people who I see every day, they came from people far far away. They came from old friends and newer. From family and friends who are like family.
Best of all were the close friends who came for a short sweet surprise dinner organised by my wife. Its a rare treat for me to see the diverse individuals I cherry pick to be my friends collected together in one group. Almost as if I don’t except such an odd social group to function. But they were all there and having a good time (I hope) and it meant the world to me that they came. For all this, of course, I owe all credit to the effort, talent and planning of my wife. It wouldn’t have happened without her (I believe it’d never work remember?).
Riding this high, I thought I would reach out again to all those people who had wished me well. I’ve made a real effort to reach back to every person that I could: I’ve replied to emails, responded to comments, called back and tried my utmost to reach out as best as I could. Maybe that will spark things, warm things, reignite things that have drifted apart. I hope so.
Celebrating a birthday is about recognising, reaching out, enjoying and spending time with someone you like. Celebrating your birthday is, hopefully, your friends doing the same in reverse. That means a lot.
That is immeasurably valuable.
That’s something worth celebrating.