birthday card

A Birthday Card Kerfuffle

As you can easily imagine, I’m all in favor of signing a group birthday card. Yes, it can be challenging to come up with something distinct to write when 15 other colleagues or peers are signing the same card, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Nevertheless, I did get a chuckle out of the kerfuffle surrounding a recent call from the GOP to sign a virtual birthday card for Eric Trump. Someone had the idea to enlist all the nation’s Republicans in sending well wishes to the President’s second son for his 34th birthday January 6.

birthday card

The mocking responses streamed in from the twittersphere. The Huffington Post shared several:

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Happy Birthday to All

Now, of course I wish everyone a happy birthday — regardless of whether or not I agree with their political views. But, I have to agree with the many people pointing out that it’s odd for the GOP to be asking people to recognize the birthday of a private citizen, just because he’s related to the President.

Plus, really, what kind of “personal message” are you supposed to add when writing to an individual you have never met? I began this blog with a mention of my difficulties coming up with something personalized to say on a card when I was chiming in on one that several people had already signed. And that was for someone I at least know!

If you’re going to participate in social media birthday card sending, can I suggest an alternative that might mean more? There are quite often card showers for children with illnesses or elderly relatives who are removed from family. Consider this example from Hershey, Pennsylvania for a boy with cancer:

In doing this blog I even discovered on Facebook a Card Shower Club that brings together volunteers to help people commemorate milestones. Check it out!

 

 

Birthdays are WHY you age, per preschoolers.

birthday party

Photo by Carnesaurus on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I’ve always wondered why some people avoid birthday hoopla. They don’t like being recognized on their special day and a party is too painful. But new research might shed some light on the issue. Maybe the birthday pooh-pooh-er’s haven’t outgrown their belief that the birthday party actually ages them.

Apparently, children prior to turning six or seven, “mistakenly believe that birthday parties cause aging.”

The research published in Imagination, Cognition, and Personality shows that nearly 40% of the preschoolers surveyed thought people would gain a year or two in age on their birthdays.

The study adds to research examining the ways in which children process of growing and aging. Usually around four years of age, children begin understanding that certain living things get bigger. In another year or so, they’ve figured out that living things eat food to grow. But, apparently birthdays and birthday parties “present a complication to the young brain, as it’s an event that’s indelibly linked to a person’s age, and by consequence, the aging process itself.”

Birthday Complications — No way

This isn’t the first study to find this result. Scientists in 2002 came to a similar conclusion, but their study was structured in such a way that the current child psychologist wanted to tackle it again with fewer limitations.

In the recent work, Jacqueline Woolley, a UT Austin prof, told stories about birthdays to nearly 100 kids between the ages of 3 and 5. One story was about a three-year-old who had no party, another who had a pair of parties, and a third about a child simply turning three.

The children were then asked how old the birthday child would be — 54% correctly said the no party child would still be three, but 38% of them thought the two party child would have aged more to turn either be four or five.

Woolley wrote in the study: “Children of all ages seemed to believe that not having a birthday party can halt, or possibly even reverse, the ageing process and that having multiple parties can speed it up.”‘

birthday party

Photo: Foter.com

The upside of our 40s?

birthdays

Photo on Foter.com

At a surprise birthday dinner for a friend the other night, someone suggested we offer encouraging input about turning 40. The other women at the table, even the one person who was not yet 40, chimed in with how much stronger they felt now that they were older:

  • “I know what I want and can ask for it.”
  • “I don’t care as much what other people think.”
  • “I’m better at saying No.”
  • “I can love the people I choose to love and not worry so much about the others.”
  • “I’ve figured out who I am.”

All this sounds great, right? But I was having a more difficult time coming up with positives. I still love birthdays, but I feel as if this is the year where I stopped loving getting older.

The flip side of 40s

In the past I was the youngest of all my friends, so that helped. But that’s not true any longer. At this event, I was the deepest into the 40s of any of the women at the table. Later that night I asked the same question of my husband, a year older than me. He also didn’t have a lot great to say about being in our 40s. Our list looks more like:

  • “My hair is really turning gray now — all over.”
  • “The wrinkles on my face are deepening noticeably.”
  • “It is nearly impossible to lose any weight no matter how much I exercise or how well I eat.”
  • “More foods disagree with me now.”
  • “My body takes so much longer to recover from exercise now.”

Now, the obvious answer is that we’re just more negative people (or a cake half eaten kind of people). But, I don’t know about that. I am otherwise in a good place in my life. I practice mindfulness. I am exercising regularly. I eat more intentionally than I have in the past. I am doing a job I love. I get to blog about birthdays…

Maybe I’m just more of a realist. The women at the table were being cheerleaders helping the woman turning 40 to feel good about her milestone birthday. They might agree with me about all of the items on the second list, but realized that wasn’t what our friend wanted to hear at that moment. So, let’s chalk it up to another advantage of being 40 — we know when to keep our mouths shut in favor of greater peace and happiness. for those around us!

Tiny “Birthday Twins”

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Image source: People

Birthdays can bring people together. Here’s a sweet example highlighting this truth:

People magazine recently featured two four-year-old friends who see themselves as twin sisters because they “share a birthday.” Well, they don’t actually — they were born two days apart — but they’re four, so we’ll forgive them that (although People could have been more accurate).

Anyhow….

Zuri Copeland and Jia Sarnicola were born June 5 and June 3 respectively and have been best friends for two years since meeting in a Miami school. Apparently the two girls who hang out almost daily have started telling people they are sisters — twins to be exact.

But, when they did so in a face painting line at a birthday party, two other girls said they couldn’t be twins because they weren’t the same color.

Zuri’s older sister recalls Jia beginning to cry while Zuri stood her ground and said:

“You don’t know anything! We are twins because we have the same birthday and share the same soul!”

What a lovely idea!

Birthday Buddies

The older sister posted this anecdote to social media with a picture and the story went viral (hence People). Those liking and retweeting loved hearing about the girls’ friendship and their bond that transcends race.

Social media saw friends of all races comparing themselves to the girls and true biological twins of different skin colors sharing their experiences.

Zuri’s older sister told People she hopes the story helps people “begin to have faith in humanity” during a period of racial tension in the country. “If 4-year-olds are able to maintain healthy doting relationships despite their skin colors, then so can adults.”

Of course, adding my two cents, I believe that what brought these girls together to bond in the first place was clearly the close proximities of their birthdays. Birthdays are a bond that can’t be beat!

Life Saving Birthday Generosity

 

Everyone likes to spend his or her birthday in a special way — even if that is (inexplicably to me) ignoring it entirely.

Obadiah Jenkins of Homer, Alaska decided to celebrate his 33rd birthday this year by attending the Six-Mile Creek Whitewater and Bluegrass Festival in Hope. He hadn’t brought a kayak or even a paddle; he just planned to watch the events.

His friends, though, thought he needed to get out on the water and rounded up the gear he’d need.

It’s fortunate for Daniel Hartung that they did. Jenkins ended up helping to rescuing the more inexperienced kayaker after he flipped into the creek’s frigid waters.

Drop over Waterfall

Hartung, 64, was taking a practice run in Class IV rapids (the most extreme rating for rivers) before the kayakers were in place to help anyone in distress were on the course. He floated downriver and was swept toward a canyon wall and over a drop named Waterfall.

Jenkins, noticing Hartung was pinned under a tree, dropped a rope down to him. But Hartung was unable to get free. “The more I struggled, the more my head went lower. At first, I could keep my head up and breathe, but then it became difficult to catch a breath,” Hartung told the Alaska Dispatch News later.

Jenkins jumped into the water to rescue Hartung after the older man had been stuck in the current for more than five minutes. Even, at one point, with his face forced into the water for 45 seconds.

In jumping in Jenkins knew he was violating “the first principle of rescuing: Don’t endanger yourself to save someone else.” But he moved on autopilot.

“It was my birthday and I just wanted that guy to have another birthday,” he said. “My brain went into automatic mode, and I knew that if I didn’t act immediately, we would be recovering a body.”

Birthday Injuries

Hartung was unconscious when pulled to shore and needed CPR. Jenkins said of the man he rescued: “He was a fighter…To hang on that long in that cold water was pretty impressive. After two rounds of doing chest compressions to him on the riverbank, his wife came down and talked to him. You could tell that hearing her voice helped bring him around. His pulse came back and he began breathing on his own.”

Hartung was taken to hospital and released. Jenkins, too, suffered a sore body from diving into the current, but was still happy the situation ended well.

The New York Post has a video of the rescue you can see too.

Weighing Kid’s Birthday Priorities

Any reader who knows me personally likely knows how much I HATE morning talk radio. So much talking. So early in the morning. Blah blah blah. Please be quiet!

Still, I did listen to Allan & Ashley of Warm 106.9 asking listeners if it was OK to miss their kids’ graduation and birthdays. Or at least that’s what the blurb said they were talking about. See:

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But I endured five minutes of their blathering and didn’t hear a peep about missing a kid’s birthday. GRRR.

Yet reading about my annoyances is not the reason you read this blog (or at least not the main reason). So, let’s get back on topic. Even if Allan & Ashley ignored it.

Is Missing A Kid’s Birthday OK?

I found a “happy place for smart women” site with an article addressing this very question. And the author really did talk about it…not just say they would.

The article’s author Mia Freedman admits that she did miss her two-year-old’s birthday for an important, long desired interview with a Prime Minister. But they celebrated the birthday the next day, when she returned, and her toddler didn’t much notice the difference.

It helps that the child was so young. Plus, I’m not going to say that someone should lose out on an amazing personal or professional opportunity because of a child’s birthday. Although they should think hard about it first…

But, turns out Freedman was writing in response to a comment by a UK social commentator named Katie Hopkins who said:

“I would rather earn money than be with my kids on their birthday…Why is this is so hard to understand? Work today. Enjoy tomorrow more.”

Gulp. There are too many ways I want to respond to Hopkins, and few of them are “happy.”

Hopkins’ comment caused a response that merited her time on a follow-up program in which she said:

“My children recognize that I’m on the road a lot, I have to work a lot….They understand we’re a team, we all have to work together and it only takes a few steps from special child to spoilt child and I like to think mine are simply special. If I miss the day – I haven’t forgotten the day – but if I miss the day we’ll make it up some other time.”

Make an effort is what I say

Yes, this sounds more reasonable. Still, suggesting I am spoiling my child by trying to accommodate his or her birthday gets under my skin. Obviously I would not put my kids’ birthday ahead of keeping my job and the livelihood that sustains said kid and my family.

Still, I prefer to think of prioritizing your kid’s birthday before a work engagement as telling your child they are special to you rather than spoiling them. After all, the birthday is pretty much the one day a year a child can hope to be spoiled and put first on the family priority list. Where do you stand on this issue?

 

Birthday Anxiety Around the World

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Foter.com

Birthday stress spans global borders apparently. In announcing its new Birthday on Demand service featuring character from kids’ shows singing Happy Birthday, Netflix shared many statistics too.

And loyal blog readers know I love a good birthday statistic! I’m still slowly but surely gathering data in my own birthday survey. Fill it out now — average time taken is 2 minutes!

In the meantime, I have to share Netflix’s findings based on 14,582 SurveyMonkey responses from June 26th-July 10th, 2017. The respondents were adults online who have a child 8 years or younger in the household in the United States, UK, Philippines, Singapore, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Turkey, France, Germany, and Italy.

Turns out that no matter which country the parent is sweating party planning is the norm. Although less so in some countries than others:

  • 46% of French parents say birthday planning isn’t stressful, while parents in Peru and the Philippines feel most stressed about kids’ birthdays (77%).
  • Parents in Turkey (56%) and India (52%) felt the most social media heat around their kids’ birthday parties.
  • Meanwhile, 91% of parents in Mexico have hosted character-themed parties for their children.
  • While all parents were more interested in saving money than time when it came to party planning (54% vs. 42%), Italian parents were most interested in birthday money-saving measures (72%).
  • Brazilian parents on the other hand, go all out for birthdays, racking up an average bill of $620 (vs. a global average of $250).

I’m sad these are all the results the company shared from its study. Some of the countries surveyed aren’t even mentioned! If my birthday book is ever accepted for publication, I’ll be following up with them to see if they’ll share the full survey results with me.

In the meantime, hope this glimpse into the global birthday psyche has made you feel just a little bit better about the anxiety you might feel preparing for your birthday prince or princess’s big day.