Monday, October 17, 2011


With the advent of  yet another birthday right around the corner, and considering what I would do on that day, I wondered the following:  
When did the custom of celebrating birthdays begin?  
And - What's the point of celebrating your birthday?  

I know many of you are probably saying:  What?  
Of course it's a good thing.  
Nobody better forget my birthday.  

I recall that when my birthday came around in my younger days I was very excited about it.  Just the fact that we were in the month of October was enough reason to celebrate.  Nowadays, it's still nice, but definitely less exciting as I near 50.  Still, what should my attitude be about my own birthday?  Did I accomplish something by living one more year.  Many times I have semi-sarcastically congratulated co-workers in their birthday card for making it another year.  

What should the occasion of another year of life completed entail?
It's nice to have your birthday remembered, to have people honor your birth and show their appreciation of you.  But what should it mean personally?

My work used to give a day off for birthdays.  They stopped that perk a few years back, but I still (usually) take the day off anyway.  Partially to passively protest losing that benefit, but mostly to have time to reflect on another year in the books.  What did I accomplish?  What do I need to accomplish?  I think there is a benefit to this kind of Self Examination.  It allows you a moment to assess where you're at and think about where you need to be.  Not that you can't do that on any other day.  But an anniversary like a birthday seems a very appropriate time to pause and consider just those kinds of things. 

Don't misunderstand - I'll still eat cake and accept presents too.


  1. On each of our birthdays, my mom always asks us two mandatory questions. 1) What was your greatest accomplishment this year? 2) What is your goal for the coming year? It really makes us think and we're always excited to achieve something and say "Ha, I have my answer for question #1 next year!" Birthdays definitely aren't the same as they were when we were kids but we can still use them as a chance to self-reflect like you said and thank God for another year of life that we will hopefully do something with.

  2. I really like that Sarah. You have a wise mom. I need to start incorporating those questions into the lives of my kids.

  3. To that point, I believe that's why so many people don't like to celebrate their birthdays. When you get older you tend to be more regretful that another year has passed and not much has changed.

    The most passionate people I encounter are ones who are pushing forward to a greater goal. Older people tend to talk about the way things "used to be". Generally, they aren't very passionate. However, people that have a direct goal or purpose tend to look forward with promise and anticipation.

    i don't really think about my birthday however i do think about Darby's because i understand that every day (much less year) is a true gift.