There was a brief time when New Years Eve was one of my favorite holidays. This phase of my life parallels, no, overlaps the brief period of time when I wanted to stay up late but wasn’t usually allowed to. On behalf of children everywhere, I felt it was my duty to make it to midnight on New Years Eve. It was suspenseful. It was a frightening thriller!
Now – not so much.
Like a lot of holidays, New Years Eve just doesn’t seem to have the same feel to it. Watching people freeze their butts off to watch an apple-like chandelier drop just doesn’t seem to have that same ole feeling attached to it. And then there are those darned resolutions. Nobody likes those.
Truth is, I get much more excited about birthdays than I do about New Years Eve, which is why I was so excited that the awesome Nancy Davis suggested this topic! I mean, first of all, it’s a special day just for you (and the millions of other people who have the same birthday). What could be better than that? But there’s more to it than just the customization factor.
A Blank Slate
When you think about it, a birthday is really a note that you should celebrate the fact that you, you specifically, have made it through another year. You can look back at each birthday, each anniversary of your time with yourself, and mark where you have made progress. On your birthday, you can look at the years of your life, just yours, and decide where you want to be when your next birthday comes. It’s a blank slate, but there’s nothing arbitrary about it. It’s not based on just any calendar like New Years Eve is. It’s your time frame. It’s the “you” calendar.
Of course, there is also the importance of noting and celebrating other peoples’ birthdays. I worry that with Facebook reminders, saying “Happy Birthday” is, like so many things, starting to lose its meaning. What does saying “Happy Birthday” mean? Well, to me it always has been a matter of literal translation. Happy day of your birth. I am happy you were born. I’m happy you’re here.
There aren’t a lot of times when we’re nudged by societal convention to express gratitude for the special people in our lives, and the opportunities to do so seem to be shrinking away. Even Thanksgiving is getting overrun by the craziness of Black Friday commercialism. But birthdays are still a free-for-all. They can be marked however you want. They can mean, to you, whatever you want them to mean. but in my humble opinion, they really do mean something special.
What do you think?
Image by Bartek Ambrozik. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Ambrozjo