What Makes a Birthday Happy?


WHAT'S IN A BIRTHDAY?

What does a birthday mean to you?

In the most simple of terms, it is the day you officially become one year older. For some, it signifies reaching a long-sought-after milestone like getting your driver's license, earning your right to vote, or reaching the drinking age.

The importance of all the accompanying birthday trappings cannot--and should not--be denied. Eating cake, blowing out an ever-growing number of candles, birthday favors, plates, and presents. A smile that spreads as your tone-deaf family butchers the tune of the age-old birthday song.

The definition of 'birthday' in the English Oxford Dictionary is this:

"The anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as occasion for celebration and the giving of gifts. The day of a person's birth. The anniversary of something's origin or foundation."

But what makes a birthday happy?

 

MY FAMILY TRADITIONS

In my family, birthdays have always been a party. Often extended into a week-long celebration, this grand event is meant to recognize a loved member of your family.

It's intent...one very important thing: to make someone feel extra-special. Young or old, no matter the age, it is a tradition geared toward showing our affection for each other.

My parents always went out of their way to make my sisters and I feel special on every birthday. Special dinners, decorations, the cake, and even the annual 'ear-pulling' served to remind us that someone cared so deeply about us that they would go out of their way just to make us feel extra-special on that day in particular. As kids, we even had a special record (Yes, I said record. Not cd. Not iPod. Record.) that was personalized with our names that we listened to each year on the big day. I'll never forget my sixth-grade birthday, forever known thereafter as the Best-Birthday-Ever. It was the year that I was given the often-begged-for and finally-received puppy. Beauregard. My very first dog.

As a mom, I like to think I've carried on those family traditions with my sons. I can only hope they look back on all of their childhood birthdays, and even their adult birthdays, knowing they are loved the way only a parent can love. Unconditionally. Unselfishly. Unfalteringly. Oh, sure, some of the traditions are silly, and as they got older maybe even a little bit embarassing. But looking back, I hope they will smile, knowing that they are special to us.

The point is this: A birthday is more than a birthday.

It's more than the presents, the food, the crepe paper dangling haphazardly from the ceiling, and a silly song. It signifies the importance someone holds in your life, and your need to let them know it. To share the day they were born and their significance and impact on your life. To 'shout it from the rooftops', so to speak. To remind everyone around you that it's okay to take a break and just have a party in someone's else's honor.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GLENN!

Today is my husband's birthday. We've spent twenty-nine birthdays together as a couple. That's more time than we each spent living in our parent's homes, which means we've been together more than half of our years on Earth. After so many years together, it can be tricky to find that 'perfect gift' or bake that 'perfect cake.' Since his birthday is in the middle of July, more often than not we take our vacation during his birthday week. Because of that, he often misses out on that big family party. He actually prefers it that way. It took me a long time to understand that his idea of a happy birthday is different than mine. And it's okay. As long as he feels special and loved on his 'big day' in a way that makes him smile on the inside, that should be all that matters to me.

On the day of my favorite person's birth, I want him to know how essential he is to me, and to our boys. Throughout our marriage, we've had our share of ups and downs. We've struggled and rejoiced. Celebrated and mourned. But what makes our marriage work is our ability to lean on each other through the good times and the hard times. I truly don't know what I would ever do without his presence in my life.

Without the party, balloons, and decorations, how can I truly express how I feel? How can I make him feel 'extra special'... without all the trappings?

Well, I'm a writer. So, here's a little poem I wrote, (Yes, babe, a poem. Don't worry, I kept it short!) inspired in celebration of sharing another birthday with the man I love. (I don't usually write poetry, so forgive my amateur attempt!)

This is your special day.

Happy Birthday, Glenn!

 

Birthday Poem

Do you know how much I love you?

Do I find the time to say?

How your smile makes my heart flutter,

and your dimples make me sway.

Do you know how much I love you?

Can you ever truly know?

That you cheer me with your laughter,

and the sound makes my joy grow.

Do you know how much I love you?

I'm not sure I can express.

The many ways you calm my soul,

and chase away the stress.

Do you know how much I love you?

In the darkness and the light?

When you solve whatever problem,

whether conflict, fear, or fight.

Do you know how much I love you?

Can I ever really tell?

Your smallest touch is my solution,

and it calms my rising swell.

Do you know how much I love you?

Did we sit down to discuss?

How your loyal, calm support,

keeps us going, the three of us.

Do you know how much I love you?

We are different and the same.

Though we disagree sometimes,

you never pass the blame.

Do you know how much I love you?

I hope you know I truly do.

I'd find a billion ways to tell you,

but I'll settle for "I love you."

-Kristen L. Jackson

Happy, happy, birthday to my best friend. I hope you truly know how much you're loved.

 

Kristen L. Jackson, Author of KEEPER OF THE WATCH

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