What to write in a birthday card

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Looking on the Hallmark site recently in the hopes of finding some of its archived treasures available for view online, I came across a blog on what to write in a birthday card.

I’m a writer. That’s what I do for a living. Yet, even I’ll admit to struggling sometimes to come up with the personal statement to add in the birthday cards I still love to send (in the mail — as opposed to relying on social media posts).

In putting together their guide, Hallmark’s writers acknowledge a few aspects of writing in a card that make the added personal message more difficult: “the card has already said it all” or you are trying “to keep things short and sweet.”

They go on to offer some interesting tips:

  • Pick the card carefully so that it suits the birthday person in particular, then you can let the printed message and design do the talking for you.
  • Kids love to see their age; so even if the card doesn’t have the exact number write the years old in your personal message.
  • Writing your private nickname for the card recipient instantly personalizes it.

Suggested Personalizations

Nevertheless, some of the examples they offered for what to write did seem laughably obvious:

  • “Happy, happy birthday, [name]!” — because ah, yes, that added “happy” makes all the difference. 
  • “Hope you make your [25th] a birthday to remember!”
  • “[Year] never looked so great!”
  • “Happy Birthday…a little late!”
  • “Happy Birthday, [Mom]. We love you so much!”
  • “Let the b-day fun begin!”
  • “Here’s to you!”
  • “Here’s to a great birthday!”

Hallmark also reminds us that “a warm closing before you signature is like the bow on top of the birthday gift.”

How about a warm closing on a blog…what would that be considered?

With blogging affection…. me.

 

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:

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.

 

Birthday etiquette in the office

office birthday

Photo credit: Cord Woodruff via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Miss Manners was recently asked a question about office birthdays, and I have some things to say about the answer.

The prompt read: “Dear Miss Manners: What is your stance on people who bring treats to work on their birthdays? Is it an attention-getting mechanism or a nice gesture?”

Miss Manners answered, “This feels like a riddle. How would they have known that it was your birthday had you not brought in food? And because sometimes your colleagues bring in food when it’s not their birthdays, does that mean people wouldn’t assume it was your birthday since you brought in food?

Miss Manners has lost track of the problem. Is it, perhaps, that you want people to remember your birthday without being prompted? Or that you do not want to appear as if you are prompting them?

She suspects the latter. But as long as your treats are not accompanied by a self-congratulatory parade with a bullhorn, she permits you to continue enjoying your birthday however you wish — and accepting the well wishes of your colleagues at face value.”

My first question regarding this office etiquette issue is why on earth the person has to bring in their own birthday treats. What kind of trolls does he/she work with? No one does anything nice for this person — taking them out to lunch? Offering coffee? Bringing in donuts? Making or buying a cake? Of course, I have discussed previously employee birthday benefits.

I also wonder about the response. What’s wrong with a self-congratulatory parade really? I too would question the bullhorn, but there are few times in our adult lives we actually stand up and say, “Yeah Me!” the birthday is one of these. Why must we quash that spirit?

Of course, I the person who once threw a “department” party — with streamers and candy at my cubicle — to highlight the non-existence of a department once it was downloaded to just me. So, clearly I am not someone to shy away from making a public spectacle of myself.

Still, that’s what I love about birthdays — the Yeah Me component — and why I love helping others to feel that joy. Happy Birthday one and all!

Bollywood Birthday Bummers

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In the birthday news updates I receive daily, there were recently two different Indian film superstars waxing unenthusiastic about birthdays.

Rehka, who turned 62 on October 10, doesn’t celebrate life on Diwali, Eid, Christmas or birthdays. The actress [pictured above] told Bollywood News, “For me every single day is a blessing and a boon. And I want to squeeze every drop of life out of every single day.”

Me, I squeeze extra life out of every single birthday.

However, I agree with her other thoughts on birthdays: “If anything birthdays should be a reminder that there’s so much more in life to explore, and so much magic waiting to happen. I’d rather spend each day of my life trying to correct the mistakes and improving the quality of my existence rather than cutting a cake, and whooping it up.”

Also, in the counter-cake-cutting camp is Amitabh Bachchan. The Bollywood megastar turned 74 telling India TV how he really feels about cake cutting. The station translated his remarks as:

“I have asked to stop the tradition of cake cutting because I do not know why a cake is bought. Why a candle is lit? And after lighting it up, why is it blown off. Then comes a big knife!…After all the ‘theatrics’ another trend is followed…cake is smeared all over the face.”

OK, I see the not wanting cake smeared on your face. Especially at 74 when you wear glasses and have fine facial hair! Yet, his questions about why candle blowing have been answered already in this blog — and the ceremony of smashing a cake at age one has been addressed too.

I’d argue the cake cutting and whooping it up these two stars deride is a lovely tradition. Some traditions are celebrated for you and for others too. After all, even my co-workers who are currently on a sugar fast saved some of my office birthday cake for later. Cake cutting is a tradition that brings people together in song and the excitement of wishing someone well. Even despite the opinions of a few famous Bollywood stars.

 

10 Reasons not to work on a birthday

Jumping for joy in sunset

Photo credit: Droid Gingerbread via Foter.com / CC BY

October 6 marked the second anniversary of this blog. Yippee.

It also marked the who knows how many anniversary of me not working on my birthday.

As a freelancer, I used to make sure I had no interviews or articles to write on my special day.

When I taught, I would always make sure that my classes had a paper to revise or research that day. Or perhaps I’d assign an online scavenger hunt. But I didn’t go to class and teach.

Now, with a regular office job, I took the day off. Unpaid even as I’m out of vacation days. Even still — it’s worth it.

Why? Here are my 10 ten reasons:

  1. Sleeping in. Even now that I have a kid to get on the bus in the morning, I can still go back to bed afterwards and snooze a little longer.
  2. Getting to read in bed before starting the day in earnest. Always a treat.
  3. No time limit on birthday lunch. It can take as long as I want and be wherever I want. I would love for it to be at Pompeii, my favorite Italian sandwich shop in Chicago, but living in North Carolina makes that more difficult these days.
  4. Flexibility on movie matinee. By going to a movie in the middle of a weekday on my birthday, I can see whatever movie I want without worrying whether or not the person accompanying me will also enjoy it.
  5. Time for a leisurely chai. With a book, outside on a sunny Fall day is even better.
  6. Ability to shop without a child in tow (and parent who enjoys retail therapy gets me there). Plus, there’s the added benefit that buying things on your birthday is really just getting yourself presents and therefore totally legit.
  7. Exercise without a deadline. Since I don’t have to go to the office, I can go on a hike or go for a run or go to a Zumba class (if I am so motivated) without the pressure of getting home and showered and back out again in time for work.
  8. Dinner reservations made easier. Simply book a table at a favorite restaurant without worrying about finishing up a task at work before the appointed time.
  9. Luxury to decide not to do any of the above things and simply hang out on the sofa all day watching HGTV.
  10. Me time. Everyone needs a mental health day every once in a while. I make my birthday a day to do whatever I want to do, without guilt. The only mandate is that I relax and enjoy myself. To me, even as I move into my mid-40s, that is what birthdays are all about.

Well, that and cake…always cake.

melted birthday candles

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