09 August 2006

Choose to Celebrate

*insert soapbox here*

What's the deal with people making such a big deal about not making a big deal about their birthdays? Said in a less confusing way, people seem to go out of their way to avoid attention on their birthday, to the point of outright asking people not to do things for them, or avoiding letting people know about it in the first place. For example, Katherine, Ben, Nicole . . . . From what I can tell, the front seems to be some sort of humility thing--you don't want people to think you are so self-centered as to think the world should revolve around you, just because you were born on this day--along with a desire to avoid public attention. Maybe it's just leftover from my obsession with The Giver, but I feel very threatened by this desire to eliminate the specialness of birthdays.

Okay first, I see no reason that you should treat your birthday like any other day. There's nothing essentially conceited about celebrating your birthday--it's your own personal holiday; might as well make use of it. There's nothing wrong with a putting a little extra fun in your day. I mean, I personally look for all the excuses for celebration I can get. I go all out for St. Paddy's Day (March 17th), Saint Agnes' Eve (January 21), Pi Day (March 14--3.14), even National Waffle Day (August 24--coming up soon!). With so much to stress out about in our everyday lives, why shouldn't we seek out the little reasons to celebrate--be it your birthday or just Mole Day (October 23). No, it needn't be elaborate, but don't be so embarrassed about having a little fun for the arbitrary reason of your birth! There's almost nothing better than being joyous for no really good reason, being less hard to please and more eager to celebrate the beautiful joyous aspects of life. Try it some time.

Second and probably more important, choosing not to celebrate your birthday actually seems more self-centered to me. That's because celebrating your birthday is really not about you. What? Yeah, that's right. Here's the reason: your birthday exists so that your friends and family have the chance to show their love for you, not so that you have the opportunity to receive love from them. And by cancelling or diminishing your celebrations, you deny them an opportunity to express their feelings, serve you, and build charity. In fact, charity is a good way to understand what I'm talking about. Always being self-sufficient keeps you from the uncomfortable position of having to ask for service or the embarrassment of actually receiving it, but it also denies others the opportunity to serve you. If everyone avoided receiving service, then how could we build charity?

This is much like my opinion on wedding celebrations. First, no need to act casual and cool, like a wedding is no big deal, cause it is! Second, having a small little reception doesn't show that the bride and groom are more modest and humble than others; rather, it indicates to me that they are so self-centered--thinking the wedding is all about their comfort--that they deny well-wishers the opportunity to wish them well in their marriage. The wedding is about the guests and the relatives, not about the couple--they have the whole rest of the marriage to spend together. Sacrifice a little time and effort for the people who helped you get there.

So, try to think of people's birthdays as more like their own personal Mother's Day--you wouldn't possibly downplay that holiday, would you? Maybe yes--people seem to be more hesitant to celebrate in general these days, and it makes me feel sad. It's as if they don't want to be caught looking childishly excited about a holiday. But didn't Christ tells us to become as little children? And yes, I really think being eager to celebrate is part of that council. We should be full of joy and happiness, not shying away from celebrations because they might cause you to take some attention from others.

Or maybe it's just because I come from a party-throwing family.

*soapbox end*


alishka babushka said...

i have to completely agree. my birthday is MY day! and i have no qualms to celebrate it all out! :D

Katherine said...

Point taken.

I admit that I am wont to downplay my birthday, not because I'm trying to put on a show of humility, but really just because 1) at this point in life, although I do try to give myself a bit of a break and allow for some celebrating, I still have to go on with my normal obligations--work, school, etc., and 2) I feel awkward as the center of attention.

But I'll think about it. Maybe next year I'll go all out. :)

Not Too Pensive said...

Eh... I don't "try" to downplay my birthday, I'm just not the type to go out and celebrate all the time. Also, I'm not a big fan of being the center of attention, and dislike feeling that I'm somehow inconveniencing others to cook/do other things for me. Given my druthers, I'd prefer to let them pass quietly with a small celebration with my wife (maybe dinner out or something), but I go along with her family's tradition of having a get together, cake, perhaps some BBQ. I did mind a bit at first, but I came to realize that a birthday is as good a reason as any to get people together, so I don't really complain any more.

I'm not shy, nor do I have so-called "self-esteem" issues, but I prefer to play a role in the background rather than in the front, and I don't like to be the subject of too much attention. I tend to respond better to criticism than praise, which I suppose is strange, but sometimes I feel as if simple praise leaves me with nothing to do, and I prefer to have something to do, something to work on, something to tweak.

Coming back to the topic for the moment, I think it's important to realize that a birthday party isn't really about you anyways. Sure, there's some ceremony to it, you blow out some candles, etc. but in the end everyone gets to eat the cake and the BBQ, and it's just an excuse to get people together. You're the center of attention for only a few minutes, and after that it's just like any other get together.