My friend BTG, the self-proclaimed “old fart” (who is young enough to know better), recently posted a very nice blog wishing his wife a happy birthday. It made me think about birthdays and the way we have come to celebrate them in this country of late. The attached comic (which I will probably get in trouble for using while at the same time I thank “Go Comics” for allowing me to post it) pretty much says it all. But that never stopped me from ruminating on the subject a bit.

Thanks to "Go Comics"

“For Better Or For Worse”

The notion that a person should receive a present — or multiple presents– for a birthday is, on the face of it, ridiculous. The one who should receive the present is the mother of that person. After all, she was the one who endured the pain and agony of delivering the child into the world and, in all likelihood, pretty much raised him or her all by herself. As a rule, husbands seem to have so much to do that takes them away from the raising of children, causing them later in life to regret spending so much time away from their kids. I know that was true in my case. It all seemed so important at the time, whereas I have come to realize that what was important was being with my kids as they grew up and helping my wife turn them into the remarkable young men they are today. In any event, the kids should give their mothers presents. After the kids grow up the presents should stop — along with counting the years!

And as far as parties go — as the comic suggests — it has gotten out of hand. In fact, my wife and I refuse to participate in the orgy of parties that have become a contest among families; we simply send the grandchildren their presents and leave it at that. We love our grandchildren, but are convinced the whole spectacle of parties has gotten way out of hand, with hired clowns and princesses escalating their way to bigger is better. The giving of presents and the hosting of parties simply expands the whole materialistic ethos that permeates this country and has in large measure brought us to our present impasse where money and “things” have become the idol worshipped in nearly every house in this land.

Many of us have come to realize that the way we celebrate Christmas is all wrong. Perhaps it is time to turn our attention to birthdays. Let us embrace our loved ones and tell them we are happy to have had them with us for another year. Or perhaps post a blog telling them how much we love them and take them out for a nice dinner. But let’s let is go at that. It should be about love and the delight we have in knowing those we love are still with us. It shouldn’t be about giving someone a scarf or a ball point pen and getting caught up in the competition of throwing a bigger party than the Smiths did last year. And don’t get me started about all those “holidays” Hallmark has invented to sell their cards!


11 thoughts on “Birthdays

  1. I had something like this when my kids were younger, and my daughter asked me what I was going to do her her birthday. I told her I was going to let her live 😀

  2. Alastair’s comment made me laugh!

    Yes, BTG’s loving post was so beautiful, and I am glad that it helped trigger this post that you wrote!

    “Out of Control” seems to be a fit term for this madness, and it does seem to be a competition. Does that spring from insecurity – a parent’s fear that he/she won’t measure up to the Smiths?

  3. here, here, the mom gets the presents!!! I’m all for that 😉 But, you’re right, it’s out of hand. When you have made-up holidays like “grandparents day” and such, I think it’s the retailers driving all the competition. They’re in it for the profits and our culture is such that so many give in to the marketing.

  4. Thanks Hugh for the comments. I agree about the marketing engine we call birthdays and holidays. There was some inane show on MTV about elaborate 16th BD parties for girls. People were spending $30,000 on them. Christmas is so unrelated to its meaning, it is insane. And, where did the concept of Easter baskets with gobs of candy ever come from? Many thanks, BTG

  5. Kids’ parties have gotten out of hand here too, the competition to have a show stopper is incredible. You wonder where it will all stop. The comic says it all. The party arena is second only to the school project arena.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! I have people in my life-GROWN people-who expect an orgy of adoration every single year. Nothing about being born makes you special. EVERYONE has done it;)

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