Birthdays. How do you feel about yours? Are you excited, do you plan stuff? Do you like presents? Do you want to be treated differently: breakfast or a cup of tea in bed, pile of cards to greet you on waking, dinner out? Do you want a badge to wear, flowers to arrive at work? Phone calls (more likely texts/FB messages) from well-wishers, long lunch, Champagne? In short, is it a special day? Or is it just a day.
When did birthdays become just a day for me? I think I know.
It was when I moved to Australia; more accurately, it was when I stopped being an office worker.
Up until that point, birthdays had been big business. I was lucky enough to have a plethora of birthday-friendly colleagues who would go all out, every year, to make birthdays brill. One place/person in particular was over-the-top ridiculous when it came to my birthday, and I loved it! There was the year I was asked what “theme” I’d like for my birthday decorations – (I really was spoiled; everyone else got the same box of decorations brought out time after time) – and I chose Hallowirthday.
The good wishes began upon entering the building – exciting enough for me. Then I got to the top of the main staircase to find decorations hanging from the ceiling (of the stairwell – I wasn’t even inside the room), crime scene tape plastered across the doors and windows and webs everywhere – it was awesome!
Upon stepping through the door, I found my desk – and the surrounding area – COVERED with Halloween confetti, a giant light-up spider, glitter skulls, bags and bags of gifts, black and orange balloons, oh, and a giant ghost suspended above my chair. Ludicrous! And absolutely wonderful. A Hallowirthday indeed.
Then there was the baking. Whoever was having a birthday would bring in cakes for the team/office/floor/building (this tended to get out of hand – again, excellent). For my birthday, whilst I would bake, my manager would also boost the cake count with her own home-baked, show-worthy efforts. We would generally set aside a desk for all the baked goods (worked best if someone was off that day so that we could utilise their space effectively).
The day would pass in a haze of icing and wrapping paper, with a surprising amount of work getting done, too (cake: good for productivity – top tip).
Ah, you see, it’s obvious when birthdays lost their sheen! I arrogantly assumed it was because I am just sooo happy these days that I have no need for extraneous celebrations of life/survival. Every day is a celebration! Who needs a party or vulgar pile of gifts?
Maybe it is a bit of both. Certainly I overdosed on excitement during “the office years”. Certainly I haven’t cared for birthday stuff so much since moving to Australia/away from the source of so much of my birthday merriment ie friends and colleagues.
In a side note, it is fun to have my annual day in the sunshine after a lifetime of freezing birthdays (top tip: if you’re sick of your birthday weather, switch hemispheres!).
I considered including a rare photo with this blog post, just because the Hallowirthday was so fabulous, but fear there may be one too many fire safety violations on display, irrespective of how many years have passed since. The outfit I have on in the picture strongly illustrates my earlier note, however: thick ribbed tights, knee boots, sweater. Meanwhile, I am typing this in a floaty, spaghetti strap maxidress at 7am (SWITCH HEMISPHERES FOR BETTER BIRTHDAY WEATHER – IT’S GENIUS).