I’m pretty sure I never envisioned the day when my son could ask a small electronic device to honour the day of my birth with a song. But that is just what happened in my house.
Birthdays in today’s world are weird.
There is no way to hide the fact that you’ve just done another lap on planet earth. Thanks to social media, digital profiles, and electronic networks, everybody knows. It’s that simple. There is no hiding.
I’m one of those people who declares that their birthday isn’t a big deal to them. But the hypocrisy in that statement went up in Californian smoke the minute I started crafting this blog. Yet I’m still going to defend my position and declare it really isn’t a big deal.
There is no need for a big party or a fancy dinner with lots of people. I don’t need a surprise or a hat or balloons. There is no internal desire to take the day off work, although that is a perk we started offering to the team a year ago.
But I have to tell you this social media thing makes you feel kinda good on your birthday. You get to spend the day being feted, in small morsels and bites, every few minutes. People you haven’t heard recently from, family in distant lands, and people you enjoy daily all chime in. You would have to be the coldest dude in the land to not enjoy it.
So I did.
But not solely for my benefit. As I looked at the greetings and notes, it made me realize that most people love their birthday. I am not suggesting they are being disingenuous in sending me greetings. But each one gives me a little glimpse into them. People like to celebrate their special day. They also like to celebrate others’ special days.
That’s why I donned a fun t-shirt I found online a few months ago and posted a rare selfie. I wanted to ensure that I signaled my never-seen-before openness to birthday greetings. If people want to enjoy a birthday – mine or theirs – I wanted to help them.
It was worth it.
Not because it fed into some cliche about getting better, not older. Not because I’m so vain that I was repeatedly counting the posts and comments throughout the day. No, because as a business contact reminded me during an afternoon meeting, human beings are happiest when they feel love and a sense of belonging in this world. (BTW he didn’t know it was my birthday or perhaps he forgot my gift).
Happiest when loved. Happiest when you feel you belong. Perhaps that is the real meaning behind the words Happy Birthday. It’s an extra special message of friendship and connection that each of us deserves, at least once a year.
Even if that message is delivered by Google.