Yea, I’m a birthday girl; birthdays are important to me, and I’m here to tell you that they should be for you, too.
Before things get confusing, let me clarify, this is a not a rant to convince all you strangers to care about my birthday or get too caught up in your own birthday.
I’m here to tell you that your family and friends’ birthdays are important. Probably more important than you’ve let on. And that’s OK … but it’s a New Year, so it’s a good time to start putting birthdays on your calendar and mailing cards on your to-do list.
Birthdays are a celebration of life, seeing the good in people, reminiscing on how far we’ve come, cherishing memories, and reminding people that the journey of life is best spent walking alongside people you love.
Birthdays are the one time a year you truly take the time to let someone know what they mean to you — to show them that their life matters. It’s the one day a year when you put any disputes and bad blood aside and only look at the best in people.
It’s the day when someone you care about is put first.
Why celebrate people on their birthdays and not every other day of the year?
Well, if you think you can remember to love on people (near and far) periodically throughout the year, then great! But I don’t think most people remember to send “Just Because” cards or buy your friends dinner when you go out together (unless it is their birthday). A birthday is just a day to be intentional and put more effort in than you would any other day of the year.
Most people wouldn’t disagree with me; I think most people like birthdays. But celebrating a birthday means remembering a birthday; it means knowing ahead of time and being intentional.
There’s a lot of noise in our day-to-day lives and most of the time we don’t even know it’s people’s birthdays until Facebook notifies us that morning. So, take the time upfront to sync your calendar, add the birthdays you want to celebrate, and set a notification to remind you a week in advance to plan.
Honoring a family member or friend on their birthday means recognizing them in a way that makes them feel loved. We all have love languages, i.e., the way we best feel loved. Knowing your friends’ love language and planning a birthday recognition around that is sure to show a genuine, intentional gesture of celebration.
I often hear, “I don’t like the attention” or “it’s no big deal.” Maybe your friend doesn’t like a lot of attention, but it doesn’t mean you can’t recognize what her life means to you.
Perhaps “it’s no big deal” is a defense mechanism by someone who’s been repeatedly let-down on their birthday. Or maybe she has sad memories attached to her birthday (re: Ted repeatedly breaking up with Natalie on her birthday: How I Met Your Mother). Or maybe her parents didn’t make a big deal out of her birthday growing up so she just doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
Look, a birthday isn’t about the stretch limo or the $200 custom designed cake – it’s simply showing people you care about them.
Snail mail, flowers, a coffee date … the options are endless. It’s not about how much money you spend, it’s about meeting people where they are and showing them that you know them.
People like to be known; understood.
You may be intimidated by the Instagram world’s expectations of the perfect birthday but don’t be. Ask yourself, “What makes [Karen] feel loved?” and do it! A hand-picked bunch of wild flowers is just as special as that stretch limo. In the Instagram world, a picture is a picture but in the heart, an act of kindness has the power to truly shape someone’s life.
Birthdays are a living memorial of a life; a person. Let’s celebrate that life and use that day as an opportunity to encourage and uplift the people we love.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart