Today is the birthday of a very good friend of mine. In the time honoured fashion, I have congratulated him and wished him a very happy day. Indeed, two days ago my wife and I, along with some other friends, spent a most enjoyable day assisting him in celebrating his birthday two days early…well, it was Sunday, the sun was shining and it seemed like a good idea.
The aspect which always intrigues me is that the aforementioned birthday boy doesn’t like to celebrate birthdays. The fact that we did so this year was more the result of an arm-twisting by his wife than a joyous desire of his own. As I understand it, he would rather just forget about birthdays altogether. I know that he is not alone in this feeling as I have heard many others express similar sentiments in respect to their own birthdays. For such dejected souls, it is just a day which reminds them that they are yet another year older.
I take the opposite view. As we cannot escape the biological fact that we are ageing, why not use that special day to rejoice in the miracle that was our own birth and celebrate the fact that we are still alive? At the very least, it provides an excellent excuse for opening the odd bottle of champagne! By all means forget the precise number of years, but let’s not lose the opportunity for a good party.
For the past ten years or so, I have decreed that my own birthday should be a day of personal indulgence. It is a day on which I refuse to work. If it happens to fall within the working week, then I will take a day’s leave. The day is my own and I spend it in whatever way pleases me, which often means a mix of book shops, sight-seeing, a leisurely lunch, time for quiet personal reflection and a celebratory dinner in a quality restaurant. From my perspective, too many people allow their own birthday to whiz by without a second glance and then it is off on the frantic 365-day race to the next one.
Indeed, so highly do I rank the importance of celebrating birthdays that my wife and I have just recently celebrated our joint centenary. Having realised that our birthdays this year add up to one hundred years and, acknowledging the fact that neither of us is likely to make it to one hundred on a solo basis, we decided to party now. As I said, any excuse to open the champagne!
So, I believe my friend ought to take a leaf out of the book of the former American financier and presidential advisor, the late Bernard Baruch (1870 – 1965) who was quoted in Newsweek (29 August 1955) as saying:
‘To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am.’
I am sure that it is an adage well worth adopting.
Happy Birthday Harlequin.