The older you get, the less time most people spend celebrating their birthdays. But reflect for a moment on the lengths that the ordinary set of parents will go to in order to ensure that their one year old, or eight year old has a birthday to remember. And sadly, these children will not likely remember any of it, not to mention appreciate the planning, money or high hopes that go into these birthday celebrations. So why do so many people save the excitement of celebrating birthdays for the young? Surely, the personal gains marked by a year and the life lessons learned within that time are more meaningful the older you get!
It’s interesting that in countries like the United States celebrating adult birthdays is not heralded as morally correct or appropriate. Adults are relinquished to having dinner with friends, perhaps going out to a movie with their spouse and without the children and rarely expect or ask for presents. In fact, the adult who gets pricked with the childhood excitement about his or her own birthday is often looked at as shallow. Phrases like, “Presents aren’t important, I don’t need anything, I would rather forget this birthday or even, it’s just an ordinary day” are common adult gestures in response to their own birthdays. And these same adults, who write their birthday off as nothing more than a silly excuse to have cake, are also at the mercy of waiting for others to plan birthday festivities.
Let’s be real, we all know that those sayings and statements, regardless of how strongly we affirm their truth, are just for show. It’s your birthday, and at some level, every single person wants to be celebrated. And with each year, there are marked internal insights that make a person more whole.
In many countries around the world, celebrating your birthday is a joyous event. In Russian (as well as in hundreds of other countries), celebrating adult birthdays is not only common, but also expected – and surprisingly it isn’t just the birthdays that mark passed decades that are important. These celebrations are regarded as celebration of life parties. Another interesting fact is that the birthday boy or girl, is the ones responsible for planning the event and even bringing the cake. In Germany, it is customary for adults celebrating their birthday to invite many people out to a dinner of their choosing…and to pick up the tab. And gifts…suffice it to say no one would show up without one. And seriously, why should they?
Adopting the mentality that birthdays are important at every age, also gives the birthday boy (or girl) the right to make sure they spend the day as they wish. Remember when you turned 14 and your mom planned a party complete with a clown that embarrassed you in front of your friends? Wouldn’t you have just rather her allowed you to plan the day? After all, it was YOUR birthday. Carry this thinking forward into your adult life and you can see that your birthday gives you a very special right and free pass to make things happen that only bring YOU joy! If the family hates Chinese and you have endured a year eating pizza and Mexican food, they should all respect YOU enough to go out for Chinese on your birthday. And none of them have the right to complain.
As adults when it comes to most things, we have too carefully learned the art of compromise. And in many instances, even though it seems that we are compromising in order to please the masses – what we are really doing is giving up our own ideas about what makes us happy. Certainly, when celebrating your birthday, you are the one that should be in charge, right?
It is also important to point out, that just because you are grown doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be appreciated. In many families, the parents take such a back seat to the children’s needs that the kids never learn to do nice things for others. Especially their parents. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for adults with kids to plan their own birthday celebrations doing something that the kids love, just to make the day enjoyable. The reality is, it shouldn’t be this way.
Life is shorter than we think. A birthday marks a year, and with each one, it is difficult not to look back and see just how far you have come in what now feels like a very short period of time. You shouldn’t have to wait for the big 4-0, or 5-0 to feel that a celebration for your birthday is in order. And with each year you are alive, you change the landscape of life, as you know it. Not just for you, but also for everyone that knows you. And this should be celebrated in style. Your birthday is a good time for family and friends to appreciate you, to think about how much you have added to their life, and to participate in a day that is all about doing what YOU love.
SO this year, when it comes your turn to celebrate – instead of feeling guilty about wanting a party, about desiring a chocolate cake or about spending the day fishing – feel justified and excited about the fact that you have lived and learned another year. Perhaps we have a lot to learn from other cultures that see birthdays as an event, just as spectacular as any other major holiday across the calendar. And the day should be all about you! After all, it is YOUR birthday. Don’t feel silly wishing for a party, sneaking around the home to see if the family is planning something big and making your wants and desires known! Hey, it is your birthday, and you never quite know what the next one will bring – or whether you will have it.