Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not Just Another Day

Today is my birthday. 
Yes, thank you, happy birthday to me.

Some might say it’s just another day and from a certain perspective I guess it is.  I’m a year older, but I don’t feel it (and hopefully don’t look it).  I spent the day at work, even though I would have enjoyed taking the day off to write all day with no interruptions (between birthday phone calls and texts, that is).  I will go out to dinner with my family to celebrate but yet we could go out to dinner for any number of reasons (we like to find reasons to eat out). 
But when you really think about it, the day is really so much more.  Why?  Because it is a day when friends and family can come forward and make you feel special, appreciated and remembered.

You might disagree and say we should get that type of treatment every day and I agree.
But that’s just not the case in this whirl-wind fast-paced to-do list type of life.

We often forget to make those around us feel special and needed.  It’s not a purposeful act.  We just get busy.  It is due to this that I believe birthdays should not be called just another day. 
First, for the ones having the birthday, it helps us to remember there are those out there who do care and who do love us even if we don’t see or hear from them often.  Second, for the well-wishers, birthdays make us stand up and remember those around us.  We might not offer enough of ourselves to others on any given day but it is these special days which turn our attention away from ourselves and towards others instead.

Our birthdays give our families the license to either gush even more about how much they love us and it gives those family members who remain emotionally distant an opportunity to say what they cannot usually say.
Our birthdays remind us our friends care and are always there for us.  I have a friend who I have known for 25 years.  We have had some good times, some bad times and probably everything in between. Somehow when our boys were young, we were able to get together weekly to watch our favorite night-time soaps (remember Melrose Place?) while we would cross stitch and catch up with each other.  As our boys grew, our lives got busier not only with work but also because our boys were actively playing sports pretty much all year long.  Our boys were usually on the same team so we saw a lot of each other but boys do grow up while activities and schedules do not always mesh.  It is not often that I see my friend now (unless Facebook counts) but I know she is and always will be someone I can count on.  How do I know this?  I just know.  But it didn’t hurt that she made a point of reminding me with a happy birthday wish and this saying: “Good friends are like stars…you may not always see them but you always know that they are there.”

Those are some good things about birthdays but that’s not all a birthday can do for you.
Sadly, they also remind us of those who are no longer here to celebrate with us. 

An example would be my grandparents who have already passed.  My grandpa shared the same birthday as my husband and it was always special to celebrate their birthdays together.  My grandpa was a truly special person and every year now when we celebrate my husband’s birthday, it is bittersweet as we also remember the man who is now only sharing that special day with us in spirit.
Another example would be my father-in-law, who did not care much about his own birthday but found great pleasure in teasing me about mine.  I never failed to receive a phone call from him so that he could sing to me, “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be…” 

Oh, yes, it was funny…to him.  I took it in stride knowing he was just giving me a hard time.  Now, I’ll admit that after having two birthdays since his passing, I actually miss getting that birthday phone call from him, even if it did give him glee at calling me an old mare.
Birthdays may be just another day to some but I will say again birthdays are much more than that.  It is a day to remember or show appreciation to others or a day where you can take to heart what others say you mean to them.  These days should never be pushed aside as just any other day.

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