Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Next week, another nephew joins the ranks of adulthood -- 21. I'm not sure if anyone in my family (other than my mom!) appreciates getting handmade cards from me every year; I know the nieces and nephews are generally pretty pleased to get the birthday check that's inside the card, but my rule has been that the last check gets sent for the 20th birthday and that 21 is "welcome to grown-up land, where our relationship changes a bit in a number of ways, including what isn't in your card anymore." Honestly, if I had the extra $$ I would keep sending the gifts. But these days, sending the money means taking it from someplace else. And there's something to be said about that changing relationship....

I've been thinking about the birthday cards I sent religiously every year to far-flung friends -- do they like getting them? Not many of them reciprocate, though that isn't my point in sending cards in the first place. I think just too many adults get conditioned to think that they aren't supposed to like having birthdays anymore, which is so sad. If you can't be delighted, once a year, to be you and to be here on the planet, then it seems to be you're missing out in a way that affects you every day of your life. You don't necessarily have to have the kind of hoopla that comes with a child's birthday (although I say that if you're up for it, go for it!) but it's important to allow yourself the enjoyment of celebrating yourself once a year. There's a trend here in the US which I deplore -- birthday parties for children where "no presents, please" is specified. Ah, "no presents" is what an adult's birthday celebration can entail, but to deprive children (as recipients OR as gift-givers) is, I believe, mis-guided. If your children are getting too much, then you can give them less or invite fewer guests or whatever, but please -- don't make children be adult in the way they celebrate!

Ah, and that brings me back to my nephew, stepping over that line into adult birthday time.... I hope he likes his crazy card and learns to appreciate being remembered every year -- maybe that's the real point.


Flibbertygibbet said...

I think I'm pretty much convinced to have a party this year - your dessert and champagne suggestion was inspired!

Jennifer said...

Wonderful! Yes, one of the most delightful ways I know of to celebrate an adult birthday is to invite dear friends over and ask that they each bring a bottle of champagne and/or a dessert -- you then have your own little tasting buffet. Easy and enjoyable for everyone!