When did you stop celebrating your birthday? What was the cut-off point where you hide your birthday on Facebook and started forgetting your years? When you are a child every birthday is the major event on your calendar, well there are basically two events that you base your year around Christmas and birthdays, yes they both involve cake.
Up until the age of ten every birthday feels like the world has stopped just to celebrate with you. From ten to about sixteen you realise that the world hasn’t stopped but people still keep bringing you gifts. Then the big one 18 and you are an adult, well at least in the eyes of the law. And from then until the age of around 25 you spend every birthday drunk and asleep in a bus stop. And then comes the crusher - 30. Well at the time it is crushing, no more young and carefree twenties, no – now you are thinking about children, mortgages and credit card bills. And pretty much from 30 you almost give up the will to celebrate, or sweep your age under the carpet, and then big ones creep up on you, the decade numbers.
As you have already probably guessed my birthday has just been and gone. I am at the age where I can’t even remember how old I am! And do I celebrate? Well no, to be honest I think the last time I actually remember a birthday party was when Live Aid was raising money for Africa...Feed The World. It isn’t that I don’t like a party; I just don’t like a party that is about me. Being the centre of attention is just too much hard work.
Gone are the days when the mailbox would be full of colourful cards, now its SMS or Whatsapp messages. And no more blowing the candles off the cake, now we have virtual flashing cakes on Facebook, which isn’t a bad thing in my case because the heat from all my candles would only add to global warming.
I was reading an article the other day that stated the average person stops celebrating birthdays at the age of 31. That sounds about right. It also said that after the age of 40 half of the people surveyed had completely forgotten that their birthday had passed. That made me chuckle. Imagine the conversation – “What’s this cake doing in the fridge darling” – “It was your birthday last week honey.” No, I am not a birthday fan, not really. I would have loved to be born on the 25th of December. Oh, the heaven of being lost in the Christmas mist. But I know I will hear “But it’s your birthday we have to do something special.” And my pleas of “why” will only fall on death ears. It is a day that I came into the world, but also a day that I had no control on. There was nothing I could have done to change this date in any way, I was utterly passive in this process. In fact I was perfectly happy where I was. It was warm and cosy, I was getting regular meals and living in a swimming pool – if I could have had Wi-Fi in the womb I would happily have stayed there for years. Why do you think babies cry when they are born? They are basically shouting “Put me back...it’s cold here...and I’ve got no clothes on...oh no and there is a bloody doctor!” When was the last time you saw a newborn baby run out of the womb and high-five his mum and the doctor, screaming “Ok, I am here let’s get this party started.”
So now all these years later you want me to celebrate, you must be mad. In fact I will try and boycott my own birthday in a silent protest. Of course I realise the only person to be negatively affected by my protest will be myself, kind of a sadomasochistic protest. As Jerry Seinfeld once said “Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be.” Great sarcasm.
And yes I am another year older, am I another year wiser, well not really. It has been a year to remember for lots of reasons, and also a year to forget. But I guess that every year has its highs and lows, that’s life, it is just a question of learning to ride out the bumps and hanging onto the highs. So Happy birthday to me and remember - don't just count your years, make your years count.