In my family, birthday celebrations are a big deal. In fact, my husband, John, and I learned very early in our marriage just HOW important birthday celebrations are to me. (To understand what happened, you need to know that our birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart, and his comes first.)
For our first birthday together as a married couple, I planned a big celebration with friends, presents, food…the whole works. It was a lot of fun, and, subconsciously, I expected something very similar for my birthday.
As my birthday approached, I kept looking for signs of a party. I asked him if we were having guests, and he said no. Ok, I thought, he’s going to give me a surprise party; even better.
However, on the night of my birthday, we headed to a restaurant for dinner. My first thought was, Our friends are meeting us at the restaurant. However, as we drove, I finally asked John if our friends were meeting us to celebrate, and he said no. Right then and there, I broke into tears! I told him that I didn’t want to go out to eat, and we went home.
Looking back on the situation, I think that I was as astonished as John that I had such a strong reaction. Growing up, I typically had a lot of friends and family around for my birthday, and I didn’t realize how important that was to me until it didn’t happen. In contrast, John’s family typically went out to eat to celebrate their birthdays; he rarely, if ever, had a big celebration with a lot of friends. Taking me out to eat was his way of showing me a special time for my birthday!
Many years later, we get a big laugh out of that episode! I can promise you that John has NEVER again underestimated how important my birthday is to me! And I try to remember that eating out at his chosen restaurant is probably all that he really wants for his birthday. He doesn’t need, or even want, a huge party!
Birthdays are part of culture, and we all celebrate them in different ways! Did you know that in Germany, the birthday person buys the cake, or dessert, for his colleagues? Indeed, the birthday person is the one who invites people to their party AND pays for everything! (If this happened in the U.S., very few birthday celebrations would ever happen.) In Vietnam, everyone celebrates their birthday on the same day! Traditionally, the Vietnamese don’t acknowledge their actual day of birth; instead, everyone adds a year to their age on New Year’s Day, or what they call “tet.”
So, how do you celebrate your birthday? Can’t wait to hear your birthday stories!
Photo by Nicole Hanusek