I’d like to wish me a happy birthday today. Yeah, it’s a little narcissistic to wish yourself happy birthday, but narcissism today is as American as baseball, apple pie and unaffordable health care. Besides, it’s not every day you turn 25.
I’m afraid there will be no party and no table full of gifts for me today, though. I woke up this morning in Indianapolis in a chain hotel with a rattling air-conditioner and bedding and carpet that smells like hotel rooms did in 1979 when folks could still smoke in them. I’m not sure whether somebody actually smoked in this room or if they just had that cigarette haze that clings to them and follows them everywhere like that stinky kid in the “Peanuts” cartoons.
I’m also in this room alone, all week, on business. That stinks, too. Then again, I’m really not much for celebrating birthdays. I even hide my birthday on Facebook so that I don’t get those 435 meaningless “happy birthday!” posts from semi-friends who would have never otherwise known it’s your birthday without Facebook telling them. Also, I don’t want to have to respond to each of 435 meaningless “happy birthday!” posts or update my status the next day to, “Thanks, everybody, for all the happy birthday wishes! I feel so special to be remembered!”
While I’d rather be home on my birthday with family and friends, I don’t need a party and I most certainly don’t need gifts — or, more specifically, material stuff. I’ll accept the gift of time well spent, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough stuff.
Ten days ago, we celebrated my grandson’s first birthday — remarkable for a guy who just turned 25 today! The gift table at my stepdaughter’s beautiful home was piled high. Little Jax made out quite well, but I’m not sure he’ll ever get around to playing with all the toys.
But I couldn’t help but wonder as my wife and I shared photos of the occasion on Facebook what my friends in places like Nicaragua would think. Through my work, I’ve made friends in third-world countries, and I imagine some of the things we share must seem overly materialistic and downright vulgar to them. Some of them liked the pictures, but they must have been shaking their heads.
I see too many folks these days who have more than they will ever need still having four bridal showers, five baby showers, two birthday parties, a stock-the-bar party and over-the-top bachelor and bachelorette weekend trips. Half of the items they get at those parties don’t even come out of the box. What a waste.
I wish more folks would use their birthdays, weddings and anniversaries to encourage folks to give instead to charities or people in need. It’s easy today on Facebook to use posts to raise money for your favorite today. I bet that a $50 donation in your name to a worthwhile cause would be more meaningful to you than a $50 gift you don’t really need. I know I’d be honored if that’s how my birthday was marked.
I would, however, accept the gift of a hotel room that doesn’t smell like an ashtray. And if you could do something about this rattling air-conditioner, I’d be most appreciative. Some gifts, after all, are worth every penny.
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