Most adults say their birthdays aren’t a big deal to them. I suspect they don’t want to face the fact that they’re getting older or they fear someone will actually ask how old they’ll be. So they say it’s just another day, and they go along working or running errands or hoping no one will know it’s their birthday.
Not me. Several days before my birthday – oh… who am I kidding – the entire month of April, I let everyone know my day is coming. Mind you, my birthday falls on the last day of April so my family gets awfully tired of hearing about it over those 29 days.
Perhaps I tell everyone because I don’t want to be disappointed if they forget. But I admit, I don’t want my birthday to be like every other day of the year. It could be because I’m a mom of four boys and a pseudo mom to many of their friends. Maybe it’s that I want to have one day – ONE DAY – that’s about me and not about running to soccer baseball band-gigs sleepovers haircuts grocery stores. Maybe I’m just selfish and want everyone to notice me.
If you’re like me, and you still value the day you were born, I have the answer to making your birthday a day that will not be forgotten, a day you’ll feel like the queen (or king) of the world: Work with teenagers.
Teenagers love birthdays. They’ll drop by my office a day or two before my birthday and remind me (AS IF I would forget!) that my birthday is in x days. They’ll ask what plans I have or what the boys are getting me for a gift.
Last year, I walked into to an office littered with balloons. Balloons on the door. Balloons on the filing cabinets. Balloons on my desk. Balloons scattered all over the floor. I had cards and gifts and cupcakes and flowers. This year, minus the balloons (because the girl who blew them up has a problem with fainting and balloon-blowing-up really isn’t good for girl who faints), I had flowers and gifts and cards and candy. Thanks to my boyfriend – lots and lots of candy. But the best part was getting the great big hugs and seeing the expressive faces when kids found out it was my birthday.
Teenagers know how to celebrate people, and not just on birthdays. For their friend’s track meet, they decorate her locker. To congratulate a friend who made National Honor Society, they bake treats. When they find out a friend was asked to prom by a certain someone, they jump up and down and hug each other.
Sure, they can be impulsive and loud when they get excited, but we could probably use a lesson on celebration from teenagers. When did we grow up to be people who don’t celebrate others well? When did we lose the passion for marking the victories of our friends and loved ones? Why did we stop decorating or gift-giving or simply voicing our excitement that our friends were with us for another year of life together?
I do know adults who celebrate well. Who bake cookies and give gifts. Who, no matter how many years have past since I’ve seen them, will send a card for my birthday. But I think teenagers do it best. They know how to mark victories and milestones in the lives of their friends and they do it with gusto. They celebrate my birthday with a passion because that’s how they want others to celebrate them on their birthdays. They love the attention. They want to know that others remember them, that they are important, that someone out there knows them, recognizes their impact on the world and loves them for being who they are.
So if you’ve had a few some crappy birthdays in the past, go find some teenagers. Watch them. Listen to them. Learn from them. And when your big day rolls around, I promise you – they will celebrate you better than you’ve been celebrated in years.