I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later: ABC Wednesday letter “B” happens to correspond with my birthday. So, what better topic?
Truthfully, there are probably many “better topics” for “B”, but my birthday is my favourite day of the year, so none of those other topics are quite as appealing at the moment. If that sounds a little self-centred and narcissistic, well, that’s the point! It’s the one day a year that I can be the centre of attention, be pampered and spoiled, and not feel in any way guilty about it.
I’ve felt this way pretty much my entire life, for as long as I can remember. When I was a little boy, my mother made sure to make a fuss of the birthday child: We got whatever we wanted for dinner, our choice of cake for our birthday cake, and, of course, presents. Sure, my parents no doubt gave a lot of attention to us all year round, but that one day a year we were the undisputed centre of attention in the family.
Fast forward many years, and I moved to New Zealand. I found that Kiwis weren’t all that big on greeting cards, even then, so I didn’t get many birthday cards in the mail (apart from my mother in law). Birthday cards, when they were given at all, were handed to the birthday person (with or without a gift). All of that is still pretty much the case.
Typically, birthdays of grownups are celebrated by going out to dinner with friends, or maybe having some people round for dinner or a barbecue. Some people do have birthday parties, but in my experience, they start to become less common as people get older. All of which is what I found in the US, too, as I got older.
What I found very different in New Zealand, though, was that at work people often brought in treats on their birthdays to share with co-workers in their department or team or whatever. In the US, it was rare that co-workers even acknowledged my birthday, but sometimes one might buy me a muffin or something.
At my Kiwi workplace, though, I found that it was common, though not required, to bring in treats on one’s birthday. Nothing elaborate—maybe some cookies, a cake, things like that. It was considered kind of bad form to eat treats brought in by a co-worker, but not bring in any on one’s own birthday. Not that anyone said anything—Kiwis are far too polite for that.
All of this wasn’t standard, however, and there were variations in what happened. For example, some people I worked with put on a morning tea (which is like a small meal, really). Most of us never did that! I also went out for lunch with some co-workers a couple years, and, typically, people pay for themselves when they do this, birthday person included.
When I was a kid, many of us had birthday parties (I wrote about one of my favourite birthday parties a few years ago). Kids in New Zealand, I’m told, also have parties. A relatively recent development is that kids attending other kids’ birthday parties are given a goodie bag to take home, which made me think that my mother was ahead of her time in wanting to have something for my guests to take home.
So, Wednesday is my birthday, and it’s time for ABC Wednesday’s letter “B” for this round. Perfect timing, really.
The photo up top is—quite literally—the first photo ever taken of me, on January 22, 1959, when I was one day old.
Click the badge above to visit other bloggers taking part in ABC Wednesday—there are a lot of interesting and very diverse blog posts!