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I realized recently that I approach every birthday differently.
For some people in my life, it’s the simple acknowledgement that is most important; for others, however, there is an emphasis on presence and production.
Everyone has their own expectation, or no expectation, for their birthday.
It could be argued whether birthdays should be led by the birthday girl or boy, or by their friends and families that seek to celebrate that person’s life.
Birthdays are notorious for throwing friendships and relationships into complete disarray, at least in my twenty-some years of experience.
It’s amazing how there can be such a tremendous amount of pressure on a single day.
All of this comes to mind because my sister came to town this past weekend—her birthday weekend. My parents and I didn’t expect the visit, and were admittedly underprepared.
Upon speaking with her for a few short minutes on the phone prior to her visit, it became clear she had no desire to celebrate her birthday, at all. This was a first. Granted, as my sisters and I get older there is less and less emphasis placed on those special days, but there is still expectation on acknowledgement in some form or another.
So I had to brainstorm.
How does one acknowledge a birthday without stirring up any bad feelings?
I’m sure I’ve faced this issue in the past, but no answers were readily in my back pocket.
To approach a birthday as a traumatic event almost feels like an awkward necessity of adulthood. Just as children adapt to unpredictable themed parties, adults adapt to unpredictable emotion and the required subtle acknowledgement.
I ran to the store and grabbed a few goods—there were no balloons or candles—just varied goods in a gift bag tangled in obnoxiously happy tissue paper.
And then we bought jeans. Because what could be better and less intrusive when approaching decade number three than some new denim.