Health

Why you should really be happy on your birthday

We’re in the midst of celebrating my daughter’s 7th birthday. I say "in the midst" because that’s really what it is — the celebration that once lasted for a day is more elastic now.

birthday image

We’re in the midst of celebrating my daughter’s 7th birthday. I say “in the midst” because that’s really what it is — the celebration that once lasted for a day is more elastic now. It has stretched out to a week to include plans such as parties, visits from far-flung family members, celebratory dinners out, toting a tray of cupcakes to class, special birthday play dates, and more. Phew! All for seven!

Sure, maybe it’s a bit much, but what it all reminded me of this week is how absolutely joyous birthdays are for children. For them, a birthday is the event that closely rivals top-ranked Halloween or Christmas — excitement hits a high the night before the birthday, often keeping sleep at bay. Birthday requests for cakes, a family dinner at the Mandarin, deep thinking over what to bring to class, and plans about what colour birthday ribbon to wear the day of the birthday are thought about long and hard in advance. It’s a day to buzz and celebrate you. That’s all. And like many special events, the day ends much too quickly, but the sugar comas and happy memories linger.

When do we lose that sheer giddiness over adding another year to our lives? When did I lose it? I’ve celebrated my birthday every year, sometimes with a party, but more often it’s been low-key events such as a cake and a quiet dinner. I wonder when exactly I dropped the excitement over my birthday? Perhaps I’ve just matured, and my celebrations have taken on an equally mature, though less colourful overtone. Bye bye birthday ribbons, hello bottle of chardonnay.

With my own birthday lurking around the corner, I’m thinking about how to embrace my birthday and truly celebrate it — and, I suppose, my existence. Initially I’d planned for one of those quieter birthdays: perhaps that chardonnay with the husband, a dinner out, and possibly letting the kids make breakfast. But maybe this is also the chance to truly embrace the occasion and get giddy over what it all means. It’s maybe a time for me to stop and think about all the accomplishments I’ve made in my life and the remember the things around me that make my life a happy one — I’m looking at you close family, dear friends, great job, and more. And, as this post reminded me, rather than the usual bemoaning of wrinkles that have arrived with age, I plan to turn this birthday on its head and remember to be thankful that I’ve got the opportunity to become another year older.

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