2014-03-30 – My brother-in-law Tim seems to have more than one birthday. Oh, they’re all in the last week of March, but they seem to move around each year. His brother Terry posted a happy birthday to Tim on Facebook this year on March 27. I took the opportunity to ask Terry how many birthdays Tim has. His response? “They kept rejecting him but he kept coming back so I think he has 3 or 4.” Then he added, “for gift receiving he acknowledges all of them.”
Most families give one and only one birthday to each child. My wife’s family is just . . . different. And it wasn’t just Tim with 3 or 4 birthdays. There was also Pat and Mary who each had half a birthday, inasmuch as they were twins. Out of eight kids, this seems to add up to approximately 10 birthdays. An average of 1.25 birthday’s per kid. Outside of Tim, Pat, and Mary, though, it appears that the rest of them had the standard one birthday each.
Including my wife Kit, whose birthday is today. (Happy Birthday, Kit!)
Between today and my birthday (EightOh9), Kit is older than me. Then we go back to being the same age.
I’ve never really understood how people lose track of birthdays. My father talks about how his father didn’t know his birthday. It was sometime in the spring. People talk about lack of public records for folks born before the 20th century, but I don’t think that’s true. People in my grandfather’s generation might not have reckoned time on the Gregorian calendar, but they were keenly aware of the passage of time on the Hebrew calendar. They knew which portion of the Torah was read the week a baby was born and that definitely ties into the calendar. And they knew which holidays were coming and which had just past. So I don’t buy the argument that prior generations were too primitive to remember birthdays.
It may just have to do with people’s interest in celebrating.
Kit tries to minimize any celebration of her birthday. (Tim apparently wants the party to go on and on.) And yet she knows the day. And so do I. (And, lest I forget—which I never would—it is encoded in her cell phone number.)
Hallmark (and its competitors) give us a selection of age-related infirmities or drunken celebration to celebrate a person’s birthday. The selection seems to get worse every year. I look for something funny in a birthday card, but these topics are off my list (because they aren’t funny). Sometimes I find something offbeat or I resort to a blank card and write my own best wishes.
For Christmas I got Kit a book describing hikes you can take within two hours of Chicago. We’ve been doing a lot of walking together the last couple years, but I thought it might be nice to escape the usual venues. The weather this winter hasn’t been very hospitable to that idea, however. Even today we’re only barely out of the cold weather. I’m hoping, though, that spring has begun and we can haul out the Christmas book and begin taking those walks.
It doesn’t take a birthday for that, of course. But sometimes you need a reminder to realize what is important.
Happy Birthday, Kit! You didn’t have to be born more than once! Wanna go for a walk?