Friday, May 4, 2012

Birthday Manifesto

I make my birthday harder than it needs to be.

I didn't mean for that to happen. I thought I was doing everyone a favor. Just don't bother with mine and I won't bother with yours - deal?

It's not the age thing. Sometimes the age I'm turning bothers me and sometimes it doesn't. 41 was the most recent one. Whatever.

I've for a long time felt like once you hit 21 there is really no need to celebrate any more. Unless you really need to consistently rent a car, and then 25 is a big milestone too. Once an adult, birthdays are a hassle. The one day through the year where people feel obliged to spend extra attention on you.

I don't get it. And I don't want people to feel obliged.
In a previous birthday manifesto I wrote this about Facebook:

Now that Facebook has created a cult of remembering birthdays I despise them all the more. If you're going to remember my birthday on your own and want to send me a private message, great. Thank you. If you are only going to remember because social media told you, forget it. Don't bother.

The birthday 'love bomb' as I heard someone once describe it is a fraud. They don't love you, they were forced by Facebook to mark that they care for you on your wall so that they wouldn't be considered 'less than a friend' than the the guy you met who snuck into your 25th high school reunion (isn't it time to unfriend that guy anyway).

My sister's birthday is on Facebook, and that's her choice and that is fine, but I noted with great interest the mutual relatives/friends that marked her occasion but of course without a social media prompt did not mark it anywhere when mine came around.

I am a hypocrite in this as I do mark other people's birthdays thanks to Facebook's reminders, but I am the proof of the rule. I do it because with the birthday placed right in front of me I don't want to seem antagonistic toward my friendship/relationship with them. I am not anti-their birthday. I just don't like being told what to do.

Sheesh - cynical or grumpy much? Control-freak? Over-concerned about other people's motives?

Today I was in charge of the RevGalBlogPal Friday Five and in honor of Martha Spong I made it about birthdays. I'm glad I allowed folks to post their positive memories and spin on birthdays because it has helped me come to terms with my grumpy nature about such things... and why I need to quit it. One blogger wrote:  One day out of the year it's nice to have a fuss made over me and soak up the love. However and wherever that happens works for me.

For the sake of my son, my family and my girlfriend, it's time to quit the grumpy birthday vibe.

And so to them I says this: Thank you for finding my birthday important even when I have made it really hard. This year I will make an effort to be thankful that you care enough about me to mark a celebration of me even when I have made it so difficult to do so in the past. Any plans or suggestions you want to make in regards to this occasion will be graciously received and joyfully accepted. And if you choose to not do anything at all, that's ok too.

Please accept my sincere apologies for making this so hard. Hopefully, with a new attitude on my part it will get better through the years and eventually we will not remember a time when I was not enthusiastically supportive of birthday greetings and celebrations.

And no, today is not my birthday.
And yes, I have put it on Facebook.
Seriously, how can you not love birthdays with this little guy around (even though he's 7 now).


Martha Spong said...

Thank you, Lovey.

Stephanie Anthony/She Rev said...

I called myself a birthday Scrooge in my play, but Scrooge sounds so active about it. I'm not a birthday-hater, I'm just not into planning big things. I am DEFINITELY with you on the Facebook-thing even though you've talked yourself out of it. I have mine on there because I just always have. When I first joined FB it didn't seem like there was so much pressure to give or receive 8,000 birthday notes. It was nice and easy and pleasant. Now it's sort of overwhelming for all the reasons that you mentioned, and I start to feel guilty if I get a lot of greetings, but I don't get them. So I try for a season to respond to every birthday (usually in February because my "love bomb" happens in January and I feel particularly guilty afterwards). Then I feel stupid for sending greetings to people whose birthday I never would have known or celebrated without FB or I feel like I'm bragging to everyone else by sending greetings.... I am totally over-thinking all this, right?

Anyway, I tend not to participate in the FB birthday thing, so maybe to be fair about it I should take mine down. Hmmm....

Rev Dr Mom said...

I have always kind of hated birthdays, partly because (I think) I've not had anyone make a big deal of mine and I felt left out when I saw how others were showered with gifts and attention. So I kind of like the FB thing because I'm touched when someone takes the time to say HB even if it's only b/c FB reminded them to.

The age thing...ugh. Between 25 and 50 it didn't seem to matter (well, 30 was hard but perhaps for other reasons). But now as I approach 60 (YIKES) it's hard again. I'm grateful for every year, but where have they all gone?!

PS--happy to see you and your beloved so happy!

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