Reactions to Singing the Birthday Song

Birthday song

Photo credit: mag3737 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What do you do when someone sings you the “Happy Birthday” song?

The last time I heard it directed at me, I danced and sang along. But, I am seldom afraid to make a fool of myself if it earns laughs, and I love being celebrated on my birthday.

Recently, though, I was part of a group of women singing out loud to a friend. She had told us in advance that this group meeting would coincide with her birthday. She had reminded us the week of when we were planning the buffet contributions. She had welcomed the cake bought in her honor. Yet, when the singing started, she became completely embarrassed. Head in her heads, she tried to make herself small, as we sang around her. Please note: this was not in public and we weren’t that off key!

She said, blushingly after, she didn’t know what do when people sang to her. Other women suggested singing along. Sometimes you’ll see a person fixate on the cake as if she could cut it with the force of her stare. But, what do you do? What’s your reaction to the attention? Is it different if you’re home, among family and friends, or out in a public space celebrating?

The question intrigues me because I’ve recently encountered a psychological study on birthdays that talked about narcissists and their birthdays. This article made me question my own mental health a little — is my love for birthdays a sign that I have a narcissistic personality disorder? Here I am, after all, sharing my thoughts about birthdays with the world via this blog as if my ideas matter…

Oh well, in the meantime, I will continue to comfort myself with the knowledge that I love not only my birthday but those of others too. I enjoy the opportunity to share the joy of birthdays with my friends, family members and co-workers and doing what I can to make them feel special. Yes, even if that means singing while they hide behind their hands in embarrassment!

 

 

 

The Fury over a Forgotten Birthday

I shared my shameful secret a few weeks ago that I once forgot to call my brother on his birthday. Me, a birthday blogger! The disgrace! The ignominy! The humiliation!

Writing about the topic of making up for a forgotten birthday, I came across many funny memes the angry, ignored birthday celebrant might share if his or her birthday was overlooked. Here are some of the ones I liked best.

Many take the guilt trip humor option:

 

 

Others look to invoke fear:

This one is also pretty great:

Still, my personal favorite is this one:

Tips for Handling Tandem Birthdays Tips

Brits Christine and David Lilley, turned 75 in 2016 within three days of one another. To celebrate, they did a tandem jump from an airplane. What an impressive way to shuck off the “getting old” blues!

The news of their brave leap, though, put me in mind of another aspect of planning a special birthday — handling the tandem birthday. Perhaps this is spouse’s having birthdays within days of one another (as with the Lilley’s). Or, the more likely fraught (unless you are the spouse of someone as obsessed with birthdays as me) shared birthday day or week of young siblings.

In my neighborhood there is a family of five with four birthdays all in December. Another neighbor’s two kids are both January born. So, what’s to be done to be sure each birthday gets the ba-ba-boom it deserves?

One Mom’s group considered the question for its community suggested separate parties will help each child feel special. Yet, they did caution that it was a good idea to weigh the financial considerations and gauge the ages of the celebrants in making the choice. Other advice was to ask the children what they want — maybe sharing sounds good to them. But definitely let them each make their own guest list.

 

In a WhatToExpect.com forum on the topic, people suggested that the kids share their birthday parties until they are old enough to complain. Others added that giving each child a separate cake and avoiding joint gifts help. One respondent posted a pic of a 25-year-old and a 1-year-old both getting their own smash cakes!

Another post in a different parenting discussion thread on the issue offered great advice: “Long story short: be open to any/all ideas, including your children’s.”

By the way, while searching the web for shared birthday tidbits, I came across this jaw-dropping world record. According to Guinness, “the only verified example of a family producing five single children with coincident birthdays is that of Catherine (1952), Carol (1953), Charles (1956), Claudia (1961) and Cecilia (1966), born to Carolyn and Ralph Cummins (USA) all on 20 February. The random odds against five single siblings sharing a birthdate are one in 17,797,577,730 – almost 4 times the world’s population.”

Tweet: The random odds
against five single siblings sharing a birthdate are one in
17,797,577,730 – almost 4 times the world’s population.

4 Tips to Make Forgetting Birthdays Better

My big brother’s birthday is tomorrow. His gift should already have arrived. I am writing about him in this blog. I am clearly aware that the big day is January 28th. He’s my brother. How could I forget?

Only one year I did. Almost. I only remembered that I had not yet called in to wish him “Happy Birthday” as midnight encroached. I was, as you can easily imagine considering the fact that I blog about birthdays, absolutely mortified. Who knows what various work and life timing had interfered with my calling earlier in the day — surely, I meant to. Yet, I’d forgotten. And now it was too late to call…

So, my brother woke up the next day to a flurry of late night communications from me via email and on his work voice mail. When I reached him in person the next day to apologize in earnest he laughed heartily. He’d fully enjoyed my self-flagellation in my several “appalled at myself” messages — as any one would revel in the rare repentance of a sibling.

Thinking about this shameful slip-up years later, it occurred to me that I ought to offer some helpful tips to make forgetting a birthday go better. Learning from experience is part of how we grow, right?

4 Tips to Make Forgetting a Birthday Better

  1. Apologize. Pretending it didn’t happen is not going to make up for the oversight. Instead, be upfront about your mistake and your regrets that you didn’t fully fete the friend, family member, or colleague celebrating his or her special day.
  2. Employ humor. Wander down the card aisles and you’ll see many options for “belated birthday” greetings. You’ll be hard pressed, though, to find one that is sappy about the gaffe. Instead, these cards tend to be hilariously penitent while still reminding the celebrant how much you love and appreciate them.
  3. Get creative. There is actually a thorough wikiHow devoted to this topic. Among its creative suggestions are:
    • make a jigsaw puzzle apology
    • offer I’m sorry coupons
    • develop a scavenger hunt
    • go on the air to apologize (for those of use who have a radio show or the patience to dial and dial again until the radio station takes our call).
  4. Be there in person. Sharing your time with the birthday individual, even after the fact, can quickly turn the tide. After all, if you take the person for coffee (and cake) or a birthday lunch, you’re likely to spend more time together than you might have on the actual day.

In looking online to see what people are saying about this topic, I also came across a lot of hilarious memes that the person whose birthday is forgotten can use. I’ll share those with you in another blog next month….that is, unless I forget.

 

4 Latin American Ways to Honor Birthdays

Thanks to an article in Latina magazine, I can now share with you some of the unique ways in which those of Latin American heritage celebrate birthdays. Or, as someone would say in Portuguese, aniversário. 

Peru is on my list of places to go for birthday celebrations. Apparently the birthday celebrant gets to indulge in un torta de chocolate (chocolate cake). Others might eat pastel peruviano, a crusty bread filled with raisins. However, just as at home I prefer my pie and cake without ice cream, I’d probably defer from an accompanying scoop of helado lucuma, an ice cream made with the lucuma fruit, native to Peru and Ecuador.

I could handle Colombia — as long as the typical egg was cracked over my head early in the day, before I was dolled up for a night out of festivities.

I’ll steer clear of Mexico, though. Apparently they like to sing LAS MAÑANITAS and then push the person’s face into the cake. What a waste of a perfectly good cake! Sounds a little like the smash cakes I wrote about for one-year-old’s birthdays here in North America. On the flip side, I wouldn’t have minded going when I was 15 — having a Quinceañera Celebration would have been fun! Although it looks as if you still get your face smashed into the cake:

Latin Birthday traditions

Photo credit: amslerPIX via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I’m also going to give Argentina and Brazil a miss on my birthday. I don’t have any interest in having my ears pulled, thank you very much. This also means I’ll be steering clear of Hungary (where they also have this tradition).

Interestingly, there was no mention of the piñata though! Maybe it’s like spaghetti (which we associate with Italy, but isn’t actually from there?).

What country would you want to travel to for your birthday? Imagine you could go anywhere in the world…

 

Show Me the Money! Birthday Edition

 

birthday gift card

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

2016 was a busy year for me, so I relied on gift cards for almost all of my niece and nephew birthdays. I’m sure they were fine with this.

After all, I still remember the excitement I felt receiving a check from one set of grandparents each Christmas, knowing I would be able to buy something I truly wanted. Actually, another grandmother of mine continued sending me $5 checks for my birthday well into my 30s; and I loved it. Buying a chai on Memere was a special treat.

I did recently, though, see a money advice column where a parent asked what to do with the approximately $1,000 their kids raked in come birthdays each year. Wowza. That’s impressive! After I picked my jaw up off the ground (I mean, a $1,000 would be a windfall to me now in my 40s — imagine getting that much when you are under 10!), I found myself thinking about birthday cash and gift cards. I wondered what we know about people’s preferences for moolah or its card-form equivalent.

According to a Vantiv gift card infographic:

  • 63% of consumers bought a gift card in 2015
  • Gift cards account for $100 billion in annual sales
  • E-gift cards are growing at 200% annually
  • Customers load e-gift cards with 10-15% more than plastic gift cards

CardCash.com also offers some interesting gift card statistics:

  • E-gifting is expected to hit 10 billion by 2016 and $14 billion by 2017, comprising nearly 10% of the gift card market.
  • 50% of consumers like allowing the recipient to purchase their own gift.
  • Almost 25% of consumers say that gift cards are easier to buy.

In a 2016 survey, bankrate.com found that 27% of Americans would prefer a gift card to an actual gift (44%). And just in case you think it’s a generational thing, younger millennials ages 18-25 were the age group most likely to favor gift cards (34 percent), but also most likely to prefer a tangible gift (57 percent). By comparison, consumers between ages 62 and 70 were the least likely to want an actual gift (44 percent).

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Etiquette of Gift Card Giving

Then I started to get curious about what Ms. Manners would say about this gift card giving trend. After all, my mother-in-law recently didn’t want to get us the blender I asked for because it wasn’t “personal.” Imagine how she’d feel about the impersonal nature of a gift card.

This quote, cited on dosaygive.com, captures it pretty nicely:

“The idea of gifts has been widely sabotaged in recent years. It’s turned into an exchange of shopping lists. The idea of gifts is to show you’ve thought about someone. You may not always get it right, but that’s why we say it’s the thought that counts. ” –  Judith Martin, 2005

Still, I’m not going to let Martin (a.k.a. Ms Manners) guilt me into regretting my gift card purchases. Instead, I’ll wrap this up with some smart suggestions for the proper way to give a gift card:

  • Choose the card from a store the recipient might actually visit.
  • Check for an expiry date.
  • Make the card more appealing with ribbons or a nice envelope.

Tell me in the comments: where do you stand on the idea of gift cards as a birthday present?

Don’t Blame the Birthday! Just Don’t Binge.

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Cake at work gluttony.

The Telegraph started the new year with the article: “Office ‘cake culture’ is fueling obesity crisis and treats should be swapped for hugs.” The article surveys expert opinions on the trend of bringing cakes in for birthdays and sharing sweet treats for other special events:

  • The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) warns the growing trend is contributing to poor oral health and the obesity epidemic.
  • The National Obesity Forum’s Tam Fry told the paper, “You may not know who in the office is secretly dieting in which case they won’t appreciate your gesture…If you want to give them anything, give them a smile, a hug or both!”

But let’s heed these warnings with restraint, right? Yes, it makes sense to avoid cakes becoming a daily occurrence at work. Plus, it’s a good idea to make healthier choices to substitute for sugary sweet consumption. Finally, moderation is the key to all dieting and weight management success.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t need to mean banning birthday celebrations. I’ve written in the past about organizations that shy away from feting employees in the office, and offered suggestions of good ways to recognize employees turning another year older. Still, I’m not going to get behind a cake ban. I just can’t do it. Heck, we even used to give our dog a ground beef cake decorated with dog bone candles. To me, birthdays demand cake recognition.

Plus, this science article didn’t even consider the fact that some people don’t want a hug. There are many of us in the world who are uncomfortable with physical affection from people we don’t know well. Consider also the fact that there are probably some faiths (thanks HR awareness raising of past posts) where it would be insulting for a coworker to hug a fellow coworker of the opposite sex.

So, clearly, cakes or their alternatives are the best answer.

Related reading:

Hug me. It’s My Birthday

Birthday Baking or “No Bake” Goodness

10 Reasons not to work on a birthday