That’s what we all really mean when we say “Happy Birthday,” right? Congratulations for your achievement of not shuffling off this mortal coil for yet another year! Better yet… I am glad you are in the world.
Maybe I’ve spent too much time thinking about this. Scratch that, I have spent too much time thinking about this. My birthday (that would be today, hence the post on the nature of birthdays) is smack dab in the heart of Christmas prep season. In New England, this also means flu season and early winter storm season, so my birthday has a history of feeling a little lost in the shuffle. Being the high-maintenance, self-absorbed person that I am, I’ve never managed to face the subsumption of my birthday with as much inner grace as the more civilized part of my brain makes my outer self show to the world.
The Janusian split between how birthdays tend to make me feel and how I feel I ought to act leads me to much time spent in contemplation of why I care so darn much. It’s not the cake (though that’s nice), it’s not the presents (though I do enjoy those too), and it’s not even the physical presence of friends or family at a party. So what’s the big deal? Why do I care so darn much about an ancient tradition of well-wishing on the day of one’s entrance into life?
(N.B. I’m only blogging about this because my mental state today is happy and healthy. If I were feeling my common birthday gloom, I would be in no state of mind to write about this with a note of academic curiosity. Last year I had a bit of a weepy meltdown over the issue, so my wonderful husband and mother have gone out of their way to protect me from Birthday Chernoble the Sequel. With the efforts they have both made, I’d have to be a completely spoiled brat to not feel cheerful and loved today.)
Anyway, what I have decided about birthdays is that we celebrate them to meet some fundamental need in ourselves to know that other people are glad we are alive and a part of their lives. And maybe I should take my deep need of that affirmation as a hint that I should spend more time with people, but either way, I think it’s probably a rare person who has no need whatsoever of that small token of acknowledgment that their life is valued.
I have already received many phone calls and emails and cards and Facebook messages today from people I care about–thank you all for letting me know you’re glad I’m in the world. You should all know that I am also very, very glad that you’re in the world being your wonderful selves.
Also, because I know this post is all over the place and more than a bit self-absorbed, let me give you the Cliff’s Notes on what I mean to say:
Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes!