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I Don't Celebrate My Birthday


Thank you all for the Hippo Birdies!

I had completely forgotten about it until I got the notification yesterday for twilight_bill's. =) This reminds me... I have to check the expiry date on my driver's license. The LJ Birthday message says if I have a Birthday story, then share it =) Well, I do...

I usually don't celebrate my birthday. Between the time I was 6 to 9, I reasoned it through to myself that my birthday is meaningless. You don't suddenly grow taller on that day; you don't suddenly get smarter on that day; you don't get a bright idea that day; you don't get a new best friend that day. The things that held meaning to me (intelligence, wisdom, friendship) were developed gradually over time, so there's nothing special about my birthday, it's just another day in the year. If there really was ONE day that was all-important to me, it was the first day of school because that was The Beginning of Life Itself as far as I was concerned.

I didn't mind at all if people remembered and wished me Happy Birthday, but I did try to keep a lid on it. When people asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday or what I had planned, I told them politely that I don't celebrate my birthday. If they asked what they can get me for a gift, I'd thank them and turn it down politely. But I stuck to the story that I don't celebrate my birthday. Most people were shocked at what I said, but tried to digest and understand. I'm amazed at the number of who people plain wouldn't listen though - "well, I'm going to do something grand for you anyway"; "I'm going to throw you a big party with lots of friends anyway". As unheard-of as something is, I, personally, think it's a matter of courtesy to respect others' wishes.

I started hiding. I stayed home, cancelled all contact with civilization as much as I could (except school and work). This was at a time when Surprise Birthday Parties were popular among a group of friends I volunteered with. I hatehatehate surprises, even nice surprises.

I went through a few years where I actually got inwardly offended when people mentioned it (1995-1999) - I would smile and thank people for the good wishes, but inside, I was offended that people just didn't seem to care about what _I_ want. But then I thought, How could I fault people for not thinking of me when all they were trying to do was think of me? After I accepted that, I stopped being offended - still annoyed at the ones who wouldn't listen, but more at peace with it inside.

And, yes (laying down on the couch and playing Herr Doktor Freud here), it does have to do with self-esteem issues. It's a bit too long and hairy to explain here, my favorite saying is "It's a big, long, convoluted story that involves World War II...". Which is kinda true. My parents and I immigrated to Canada when I was 2. They quite literally brought nothing with them except a little money, a change of clothes or two, and a 2 year old to raise. Birthdays were buried in the priority list, obviously... Oh, I'd say somewhere behind "eating", "having a place to sleep", "having clothes to wear". Watching my parents work as hard as they did, not having the time and money to celebrate their wedding anniversary, their own birthdays, how could I be so selfish as to ask them to put on a big hullabaloo birthday for me?

I was very mature, independent and self-sufficient at a very young age. By the time I was 6 (first grade), I was given a key to the basement suite we rented. My Mom woke me up before she had to leave for work, I'd get up, get changed and did everything myself, went to school, come home by myself, get a snack and do the homework my Dad assigned me until someone came home. We lived a block away from school, so I walked with some neighbourhood kids.

Growing up too fast creates its own set of problems. My reasoning went something like "if I forget my birthday, then it will hurt less when other people forget about me". Then it was, "Jeez, I can't win, can I? I want people to remember me and they forget. I want people to forget me and they keep remembering".

But I'm okay with it now. I still have self-esteem issues, but not nearly as bad as when I was younger... =P


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2001 11:51 am (UTC)
well, i sincerly wish you a HAPPY birthday!

hmm, i don't usually allow people to get me a cake. and it smacks of self-esteem issues. but it's not. i just stopped getting a cake after my grandfather died. he was the only one that got me the kind i liked. and since then, i don't celebrate with cakes. but i don't mind people helping me celebrate in other ways.
Oct. 29th, 2001 11:54 am (UTC)
Thanks =)
As a fellow non-cake person, I totally understand =) I didn't want to get cake for my wedding either because I knew there was going to be dessert with the 50 course meal and no one would want more after that anyway =)
Oct. 29th, 2001 01:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
50 courses? I'm pretty sure I counted 57.
Oct. 29th, 2001 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
50 courses!

my best friend is totally crazed right now. she would like to find a book for the "budget-minded bride." know of any?
Oct. 29th, 2001 06:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
Not really 50, more like 9 huge platters of lots of food and three desserts plus cake. =)

I'm sure there are tons of books, but will any of them help is the question. It really depends on how much she and her Fiance are making, what financial help she has from either family, how many guests she plans on having (300 easy for a Chinese wedding), if she's having a Chinese or Western style wedding, etc.

Does she think her budget is more important than the "appearance of extravagance" of the wedding? Or will the wedding dictate her budget (ie. it's not about what she wants, it's about what she has to do and then she'll just have to figure out how to finance it)?

I would say, in _very_general_ terms, a decent 300 Guest wedding will cost her in the US$25-30K range total. This is not including gifts or anything. If she's about a year away from the actual date, about $5K is enough to start putting down deposits.
Oct. 31st, 2001 02:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
oh no, i believe they'll probably have 100 people. i'm not sure if this means 50 couples or 100 couples. 100 was all i heard. my best friend practically makes zero money as she is a grad student. so, i don't know what she's going to do. her fiance said, "credit card." hmm.
Oct. 31st, 2001 03:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)

A 100 guest wedding will cost somewhere around US$10-12K (200 guests will be around US$20K).

Assuming she's had good credit history so far, that will max out 2, maybe 3 credit cards, easy (and even more for the 200 guest wedding). Credit card debt is nasty to deal with because they keep increasing your limit... which sounds lovely until you realize that it just makes you sliding further and further into the hole.

If they have no other help, I'd suggest they wait and squirrel away some money for a while. Even if they do have other financial help, she might want to consider not accepting 100% on it because whoever is paying for it may think they have the right to make decisions for her. =\ I, being a ferociously independent person, insisted on paying for it all myself precisely because of that.
Oct. 31st, 2001 03:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
i think they were really excited in the beginning b/c before they got engaged, her fiance's brother offered to pay for the engagement party, reception and honeymoon. now, he said it's all up to them. gee, how nice. so, she's really stressed out. she's talking about printing her own invitations with their home computer/printer! and just appetizers instead of a real reception. i know they won't have any chinese stuff (sad for *my* bf since he loves banquets). i think they need to save too and definitely not rely on the credit card. but we'll see what's going on. i think now she's giving up on "planning for a while." but she still think she's going to get married in a year. hmm.
Oct. 31st, 2001 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
her fiance's brother offered to pay for the engagement party, reception and honeymoon. now, he said it's all up to them

*snroft* Nice.

printing her own invitations with their home computer/printer! and just appetizers

Uuuhh, I'd say put it all on hold except for the concept research (looking at dress styles, finding out prices and where to go for what, but not actually buying).
Oct. 31st, 2001 04:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
yeah, i've been trying to talk to her about calming down and not to stress so much. i think it'll be all right.
Oct. 31st, 2001 04:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
{{{Anti-wedding-stress}}} to her from me too =P
Oct. 31st, 2001 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks =)
Oct. 29th, 2001 02:29 pm (UTC)
Happy Birth day
I wish you the happiest birthday and i hope that all your days are birthdays.
PS:check your e-mail i did send u e-card.
take care
Oct. 29th, 2001 05:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Happy Birth day
Thanks! =)
Oct. 29th, 2001 05:05 pm (UTC)
Firstly, happy birthday. Seeing as you are someone I don't personally know or anything like that, I'm obviously not planning any surprises or a big hullabaloo. More like a.. "I'm glad you exist and today's 'your day'" kinda thing..

I read your bio, and I must say, I could totally picture people simply referring to you as the bride. I've been to a ton of weddings, and the ones that involved Chinese people, if I didn't hear their English names, I simply referred to them as the bride, if I bothered to say anything about them at all. I wasn't trying to be rude, it's just that I didn't know these people personally, so I didn't really care. :P

I also cruiseed through your journal and saw that you had wanted to join the postcard_fun community, but didn't for some valid reasons. Anyhow, I'm a member of that community and I know how much I've always loved getting mail, so if you'd like, I'd be more than happy to send a postcard or two your way. :)
Oct. 29th, 2001 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the b-day wishes! =)

And yeah, I refer to people by non-name labels too =)

Re: Postcards. I'll have to wait a bit on this. I'm currently recovering from the financially destitute state that my wedding has left me in, but I'd love to exchange posties sometime =)
Oct. 29th, 2001 06:01 pm (UTC)
You're welcome.

Heyy, I don't recall my sending you a postcard needing any of your money! Anyhow, if you'd prefer, I'll get back to you on that sometime later on. :)
Oct. 29th, 2001 06:03 pm (UTC)
Oh no, but I'd feel bad if I couldn't send you one back =) So, I'm going to wait until I'm a little more able to properly trade =)
Oct. 29th, 2001 09:19 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday!!!! Sorry I haven't written...have not forgotten about you! Hope your day is WONDERFUL!!!
Oct. 29th, 2001 10:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks!! =D
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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