Appreciating the Birthday Spirit

Birthday kindness

Today marks the official end of my birthday week. Really, it’s been more like a birthday fortnight. Since, I started treating myself to “birthday” treats once Oct. 1 rolled around. As one more way to battle the letdown that I must now wait another year before celebrating again, I thought I would share some thoughts.

On my actual birthday, I started the day doing laundry and loading the dishwasher and…wondering why on earth I was doing these things on my birthday. Just as I was about to get grumpy, I reminded myself the birthday should be seen more as a state of mind.

Really, it shouldn’t matter what day I do what, as long as I am willing to actively appreciate the good in the day — any day.

Appreciating this Birthday

On this particular birthday I appreciated:

  • A lovely voicemail to start my day from a friend who was so happy to be on her way to see pandas. The joy in her voice would have been infectious any day, so I was happy my birthday gave her cause to call me that morning.
  • Having lunch with a friend who announced to our server it was birthday. The restaurant then responded by bringing a decorated plate to the table after our meal (shown above).
  • Taking the time to go to an art gallery I’ve walked by so many times before. Turns out the property is being reclaimed to be build up into business/residential, so I was extra lucky to check out the Charlotte Art League’s space before it was bulldozed.
  • Treating myself to a pedicure while reading a new book. Really, why is it so hard on other days to allow ourselves the time to just sit and relax for an hour and not feel guilty about it?
  • Getting to catch up with family members and friends by phone.
  • Going to dinner with “my guys” and having the excuse for all of us to dress up a little more than normal (my nine-year-old even brought out his fedora for the night out!).

Now, I originally did not appreciate going on to the next restaurant, where we planned to have dessert and watch the US World Cup qualifying soccer match, and finding they did not have 3 out of 4 of their offered desserts available. But, even this I could turn around as an opportunity to get frozen yogurt that night and get chocolate cake a different night.

You’ve got to love birthday versatility.

Ultimately, though, what this day made me realize is that so many of the aspects I enjoy about a birthday can and should be replicated on other days of the year too. Take it from a birthday queen — embrace the birthday spirit every day!

 

Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays

Foter.com (no, that is not me in the picture. I would not be walking so gracefully in heels!)

Yep, it’s my birthday today. And, today marks the third birthday of the birthdaysarebest.com blog. Yippee.

I thought it would be fun to share some insights into the blog to date. For instance, I continue to be amazed at the global reach of my ramblings (rants?) on birthdays.

Just looking at September 2017, I had views from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, India, Hong Kong SAR China, Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and China. But I’ve had people reading in Kuwait, Brazil, Philippines, India, Japan and other places too! That’s truly exciting!

My number of visitors has grown nearly 10 fold, too!

In 2014, the most viewed blog was this really short one on making a big deal about little ones’ birthdays. I don’t know if it wasn’t this cute pic of my kiddo that made it so appealing or not:

100_0755

In 2015, it was the one about different birthday traditions around the world. Complete with this creepy photo:

hungary-pulling-earlobes

2016’s top post was Who else remembers Paddy Whacks, with the ear yanking fun post coming in a close second. My blog on alternative birthday cake ideas from 2016 also did well, which makes me happy as I loved some of the options I found (although today, on my own birthday, I will no doubt be enjoying traditional chocolate cake).

Birthday cake

Photo credit: distopiandreamgirl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And this year, Paddy Whacks is far and away the leading blog for views. I doubt anyone has time to catch up with just three months left. But I was rewarded to see that my thoughts on making up for missing a birthday and the information I shared on your birth month impacting your personality were popular blogs too!

birthday blog

Image source

I’ll keep this in mind as I move forward into the next year of this blog. I am still pursuing publishers for the non-fiction birthday book I have started writing. But, in the meantime, I appreciate all of you readers for joining me on this blogging journey.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for blog ideas! Let me know what you wonder about birthdays and I’ll see what I can find out.

Birthday Character Greetings from Netflix

Netflix is looking to become even more enmeshed in our day-to-day lives. How so? The company this month announced an “easier way to make kids’ birthday dreams come true.” The fact that their initiative will only further enhance kids’ loyalty to Netflix characters is conveniently downplayed in the streaming service’s PR for its 15 Birthdays-on-Demand.

Netflix birthday

Image: Netflix.com

Instead, the company focuses on the pressure parents feel to make a birthday special. Unwieldy headline aside, “New Netflix Hack Helps Parents Blow Out the Candles on the Birthday Party Hijinks,” the press release is a smart one. It even incorporates a survey into the discussion of its new service to add credibility.

  • 44% parents admit to feeling social-media fueled pressure to give their kids a huge party
  • 69% wish they didn’t have to go Pinterest-crazy to give their kids a good time
  • 67% of parents globally agree that birthday planning is stressful

Enter Netflix to Save the Birthday

Positioning their service as a “new hack” — because everything of value today is a hack, right? — Netflix touts, “parents can simply press play and kids’ favorite characters will sing them a special birthday greeting – made just for them (or so they’ll think).”

This apparently “[takes] the celebrations to the next level – no cake baking all-nighter required – by letting kids celebrate with Trollhunters or Pokėmon, anytime, anywhere.”

In fact, kids can enjoy a special birthday performance from characters appearing in:

  • DreamWorks’ All Hail King Julien, Dinotrux or Trollhunters
  • Barbie
  • Beat Bugs
  • Las Leyendas
  • LEGO Friends or Ninjago
  • Luna Petunia
  • Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug
  • Cat Noir
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,
  • Pokemon
  • Project Mc2
  • Skylanders Academy
  • Word Party
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.56.44 PM

Image: Netflix.com

Not convinced, Netflix

OK, it’s a cute idea. I’ll likely even set up a Ninjago or Trollhunters one for my son come February. But, let’s be honest here. This is not the be-all end-all solution to birthday party angst. This is likely to be less than five minutes of fresh entertainment related to my kiddo’s birthday. That still leaves me with a birthday party to plan, cake to bake, and balloons to blow up.

Really, Netflix has just added one more thing to do. Because once a kid hears from her friends about getting a birthday greeting from Luna Petunia, she’ll be wanting one for herself too. Even putting the whole product release in terms of making life easier isn’t going to distract me from the fact that the streaming service is looking to find another foothold into the imagination of children.

But, nicely played, Netflix. Nicely played.

 

 

 

 

Birthday present of flights for life!

Here’s a birthday perk you don’t run into often — free travel on board a certain airline after you’re born on the actual airplane!

birthday perk

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

Baby Christoph was recently awarded free travel on Spirit Air — on his birthday — for the rest of his life. This after his Mom gave birth on a flight destined for Dallas from Fort Lauderdale. Mom Cristina apparently went into labor after 30 minutes of travel. A nurse and pediatrician on board helped with the delivery as the flight was diverted to New Orleans.

Jet Airways of India offered a lifetime of free travel to a baby born at 35,000 feet on a flight from Saudi Arabia to Kochi in India. Mom Cicymol Jose was 30 weeks pregnant when she went into labor in the air, with only the assistance of a trained paramedic who was on board.

In April, too, a baby girl was born on a Turkish Air flight at 42,000 feet!

Not worth it

I’ve mentioned before that I love to travel, and am a big fan of the Destination Birthday trend, but being born on board an airplane is too high a price for the free plane tickets. At least for the Mom it is — she’s not getting any bonus airfare but she’s the one panicked and panting and giving birth to her baby surrounded by strangers. Ugh!

At least she gets a great story to share when she lands; and great fodder for future guilt trips for the kiddo.

Inspired by Birthday Generosity

Birthday generosity makes me happy. So forgive me for sharing yet more examples of people doing good deeds with their birthdays.

In Lynchburg, West Virginia, a pair of siblings asked friends to bring toy donations to their birthday party. Josie, 7, and Jett, 9, then took the gifts to donate to a local non-profit that helps kids going through the court system — many of the under the age of five. These youngsters have been taken from their homes and had to leave their things behind, so this #bdaygenerosity is certainly appreciated.

Homeless pets were the beneficiaries in Richmond, Virginia, when two boys asked for birthday donations to a pet shelter. Hatcher and Sam asked for gifts they could give to animals in need, and also set up a lemonade stand to raise added funds!

unnamed-1.jpg

Adults get in on the action too. A women’s auxiliary in California hosts an annual Birthday Luncheon to collect gifts for the local Children’s Fund serving neglected, abused and abandoned children San Bernardino County. Now it in its 19th year, the luncheon has donated more than 42,000 gifts to the group. In May 2017 alone the group collected 5,417 birthday gifts to give.

Others are inspired to found organizations dedicated year round to the cause of celebrating birthdays. In Charleston, South Carolina, Steffi Green and her husband founded Birthdays for All to celebrate birthdays for children in foster care.

“I never want a kid to look back on their life and be like ‘I never had a birthday,’ ” Green said.

Megan Yunn is similarly determined. Her non-profit Beverly’s Birthday holds about 120 group birthday parties a year in the greater Pittsburgh area for over 2,000 children and guests. The group distributes over 1,300 presents.

unnamed.jpg

“We all have birthdays, and everyone should know that they are loved, cared for, that they’re noticed and special,” Yunn has said. “Birthdays are joy and hope and smiles. It’s not about lavishness, it’s just about the notion that there are genuinely good people out there and we want to be able to support these families.”

Birthday Cake Gets Family Kicked off Plane

 

In unhappy birthday news, there was predictable social media outrage last month over the news of a couple being kicked off a flight for behavior surrounding their cake. Apparently JetBlue bumped the family en route to Las Vegas to celebrate a 40th from their flight because the proper storage of the birthday cake they were bringing along with them caused a ruckus.

Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey were traveling to Sin City to join up with family to celebrate Minta’s 40th. According to news reports, they brought a buttercream cake from a NYC bakery along too.

Only, where to put this birthday yumminess proved a big deal on board the flight. One flight attendant apparently asked them “nicely” to move the cake from one overboard bin to a second one. So Cameron did. Then, he was asked to move the cake underneath the seat in front of him. He did so.

But, then a second flight attendant got involved, and things got more difficult. Cameron told the news that he approached the flight attendants and “said everything was fine,” and was told, “this does not involve you.” When he was told he was being “non-complaint” he apparently asked one attendant if she’d been drinking, “because her behavior was not normal.” He probably regrets that question in retrospect.

Family Birthday Fun?

The video the family shared of the incident, shows them being interviewed by Port Authority police. Oh, and the couple’s children are there, one of them crying throughout all of this.

The icing on the cake, though? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one). Minta is wearing an “It’s My Birthday” tiara throughout.

Now, as big of a fan of birthdays as I am, I don’t believe your special day justifies bad behavior. JetBlue counters this family’s complaints with a statement that the family was agitated and making false accusations about the crew.

Still, it’s difficult not to agree (from outside of the situation) with Cameron’s words on the video: “For a cake? A cake? I moved the cake. It’s a birthday cake.”

This particular birthday cake caused this family to be kicked off the flight, their flight refunded, and their trip rebooked while the rest of the flight had to go through the boarding process again.

That’s a big deal for a birthday cake. Reading it was a regular buttercream cake (which is my least favorite), I offer the following suggestion to those traveling for a birthday surprise in the future — settle for local. Mina’s chosen West Village bakery may be a big deal in NYC, judging by its website, but in Vegas it seems safe there is another bakery available to make the cake. Or just have the specialty cake when you’re back home!

 

 

100th Birthday Wish is to Work

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 12.12.34 PM.pngHere’s something we can all aspire to — loving our job enough that we want to go back for our 100th birthday!

That’s what Bill Hansen of New Jersey did. The centenarian came out of retirement on his 100th birthday to return to Hutchinson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Cherry Hill in return for $1.

The company CEO Fred Hutchinson signed a work agreement welcoming the permit coordinator back for a birthday cake, a standing ovation, media coverage, and a complete set of assignments.

Hansen had already retired in his 60s, but got bored and at 66 returned to work at Hutchinson’s company where he worked for another 32 years before retiring again at 97!

I’ve written in the past about all of my reasons not to work on your birthday, but Hansen says he hates retirement. So, for him the better gift is going back to his “second family” and seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.

This is certainly an employee (or retired employee) birthday benefit I didn’t consider in my previous blog suggesting good ways to recognize worker birthdays.

It’s a wish we might all make over our birthday cake (if our office allows it…and we don’t mind spitting on our friends’ dessert) — to enjoy our work and the people we work with enough that we want to return after retirement.