Birthdays in my family is celebrated in a different manner. I don’t remember ever cutting a cake or having people over for a party until after my marriage. I never asked for a birthday present and the same trend applied to all my siblings. It’s funny when I think about it now because our parents did such a good job in brain-washing us to believe that birthdays were not a big deal. It was just another day to get through. We were good children who would blush and feel special if our mother remembered and said a loud special prayer for that birthday boy or girl. It was really enough for us to spend the day being grateful that we were one year older. They were so casual with birthdays that even to this day we forget each other’s birthdays. I depend solely on Facebook or dear ones to remind me whenever there is a birthday.
Our mother never knew her birthday or birth year. Her mother was illiterate and her father might had been too busy to note down the date. So, when she enrolled herself in school, she made up a birthday for herself, 1st march, 1950. Later, she gathered stories of her birth and the events that had happened during that time from her elders and found out that her birth year was actually 1948 but she never could find the exact date. Sad, right? Our father, on the other hand, knew his birthday all the while but he had always been a man of very few words who rarely shared any emotions, therefore we also never really cared for his special day. But he was so excited as he neared his 70th birthday and though I wasn’t there, he looked happy in his pictures taken that day.
Sometimes I think how terribly wrong our parents were in not building a celebratory tradition for our birthdays but I can’t blame them either. They are the most genuine people I know and they just didn’t feel that birthdays were that important. Their approach has changed a bit now that they have grandchildren. They still insist that it is unnecessary to celebrate birthdays every year and that we shouldn’t make it a habit. Yet, if we don’t cut a cake or at least cook a special meat dish at home on a grandchild’s birthday, they get deeply hurt (i.e. if they remember). I like to believe that they celebrated all our first birthdays because to them, only the first birthdays and the birthdays of their first child are worth celebrating. I’m the last born so I have no scope of complaining and I don’t mind calling them on my birthday and having a chat, without them having any idea what day it is. I do this every year. Surprisingly, mother remembered this year.
Having a day especially dedicated to us is a tremendous boost for the morale and gives us something to look forward in the following year. Yet, I really don’t regret not eating those 28 birthday cakes and not getting those presents I could have asked for because I know I have eaten more cakes and received more presents than I could ever ask for. Most importantly, I know that birthday or not, I am loved and that truly is enough for me. Our parents didn’t actually fail when it came to birthdays, did they? It just gets a little embarrassing when my husband’s family calls on me and gifts me presents on my birthday and on his birthday, there is total silence from my family.