June 08, 2009

Birthdays: Love 'Em or Hate Em?

Cartoon courtesy of someecards

Yep, it's that time of the year again for 'ol Crabby McSlacker.

With increasing emphasis on the 'ol.

I used to think it was pathetic that people would get so whiny about birthdays. Birthdays are fun! And it's just a number, right? It's not like you actually age an entire year in a day. You age the same amount every day, which is 24 hours.

(OK, so that's not entirely true. When you get that letter from the IRS saying you've been selected for an audit, or the airplane you're flying on hits major turbulence and plummets a few hundred feet, or when you find out how many calories are in that peppermint mocha "coffee drink" you've been getting at Starbucks--those are the kind of days you might actually age a year.)

But even though I used to think birthday whiners were being silly, I too began to have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I think it has something to do with reaching those "how they hell did I get this old" years.

And it's really unfair; you try to adjust to a new preposterous, clearly-there's-some-mistake number, and then ... wham! About three weeks later, the number's bigger again.

However, despite the whining, there are a number of reasons I still love my birthday!

1. Attention.

I know some people HATE for others to know it's their birthday. They don't like the idea of people making a fuss over them.

And I'm a shy person, so you'd think I'd be one of those "oh please don't tell anyone" people.

But I'm not! I love it when people say "happy birthday," it's like getting compliments, only you don't have to do anything to deserve them but stay alive. And so far: mission accomplished!

On the other hand, I do NOT like the everybody-sing-happy-birthday thing, especially at restaurants. Does anyone actually enjoy that? Has anyone ever heard that song rendered entirely on key? And isn't it kind of a lame song to begin with? You know no-one wants to be singing to you, they just feel like they have to or they'll look mean, or maybe they're a waitperson and it's their job and they'll be fired if they don't. However, I don't like being the reason for forced, faux-cheerful singing. It does not make me feel festive, it makes me feel icky.

Though I will of course happily endure the ritual if some sort of free dessert is involved!

2. Cake

This needs no explanation. I could eat birthday cake every night.

3. Presents

Some say 'tis better to give than to receive. That's a great notion! And I think people who like to say that should just give me all their birthday presents--that's a win-win for everyone.

4. Indulgence

My favorite treat in the world is a massage, and I always get one on my birthday. This is like birthday cake for the whole body!

5. Indolence.

I try to work out extra the day before and take care of chores in advance, because I love to laze around a bit on my birthday. And as you can tell from this brief and non-health related blog post, I'm definitely in slothful birthday mode!

6. Spoiling

The Lobster manages to find ways to spoil me all year round, but she goes all out on my birthday. It's really hard to resent that extra year when I get an annual reminder of how amazingly lucky I am!

So what do you folks like or hate about birthdays?


  1. I hate the attention. I love the looks on others faces when I do something cool for them on their birthdays, but the attention turned on me feels weird and unnecessary. I'm working on that! lol.

    Birthdays are great! I don't mind turning another year older...it's all about the journey and how we got here! It's another year with my wonderful husband, it's no longer having the "young" people worries, it's a great thing! Now I just don't want to look older, but that has to do with gravity and bad choices earlier in my life. Can we turn off gravity?

  2. dragonmamma/naomiJune 8, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    In my house, we milk out birthdays for an entire week, 'cause one day is just too short to get spoiled. I like to go out to eat, go to the movies, get massages, play games and not do any housework.

    I do not skip my workouts, 'cause I don't consider getting fat and slothful to be a good birthday present to myself. I'd rather feel virtuous and be able to stuff in an extra piece of cake.

  3. birthdays come and go in our house. We save it mainly for the kids, or for milestone birthdays, on the 5's and 10's. i don't mind celebrating, especially when i say my age and ppl don't believe it. makes ya feel great!

  4. This falls under the category of just another day for me. I do like that you get the staying alive complement, but don't want the fuss or stress of someone trying to get me a gift. The words said are much more valuable to me than the trinkets.

    Oh and Happy Birthday Crabby

  5. Those restaurant birthday songs are the worst, and should be banned.

    I did hear one version I liked though, as they poked fun at themselves. "I don't know but I've been told, Someone here is getting old. The good thing is, dessert is free, the bad thing is, we sing off-key."

    I love other people's ---not too too into mine.

    except this year.
    you know :) with the mature tattoo and all.

  7. Being a multiple birth, I never "got" the birthday thing (this year will be the first time I celebrate solo). Then BK had a birthday and told me not to make a fuss about it. So I made a gargantuan fuss trying to make him see how great it was that it's his birthday.

    I'm still pretty sure mine's not a big deal though.

    Happy Birthday!

  8. Happy Birthday to you!!!!!

    Overall, birthdays are FUN! For the reasons other commenters have mentioned!

  9. First.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! Got to say that since you love it!

    As for me, I think the older I get, the less I like them because I keep moving further into the
    50's now PLUS I don't like what age does to certain parts of the body like the face, extra hair we women get & it ain't on the head.. that starts to fall out.. that is the stuff I don't like about age.

    BUT, I do like that I make it a day when I eat the things I want to eat & do things I want to do. If it is a workout day, I still do that which allows me even more cookies!!! :-) On my 50th, I was in Hawaii & loved that!

    I don't like the sing in the restaurant stuff either!

    If I could take what is happening to the face & bod from 49 on out of the equation, it would not be so bad.. but things keep cropping up in the least likely places!

    HAVE A GOOD, lazy, indulgent,do what you want day!

  10. You can't hear it over the computer, but I am totally singing you happy birthday right now! Don't worry, I'm in key! ;) Loved #6! I love birthdays because I usually use them as an opportunity to gather round all the people I've missed seeing over the year. Usually though, and unfortunately, I end up too "celebratory" to remember even seeing them. Well, there's always next year!

  11. Happy Birthday Crabby!!

    Personally, I love birthdays. Presents, birthday wishes, cake...

  12. Congrats on still being alive (aka Happy Birthday) Crabby! Woohoo for another 24 hours older!! :)

  13. Happy Birthday, Crabby!! I totally agree with you about the singing in restaurants - thank heavens, that has never happened to me! We don't make too big a deal out of birthdays around here - a few friends over for a drink is about all we do.

  14. Happy Birthday, Crabby!!!!

    I like a moderate fuss on the day. Dinner out is common and Mike makes a damn fine cake. It's important to observe these days, but it's equally important to show appreciation at random times of the year, too. Tht takes away the underlying feeling that it's only because it's a birthday that all the fuss is on.

  15. It's all about the cake, baby!

    But I'm still recovering from the trauma of my 10th b-day party. No one showed up.

  16. How did I not know it is your birthday?!? Happy birthday! And I'm glad you've found a way to enjoy them. My fave thing from your list is: "This needs no explanation. I could eat birthday cake every night." Amen, sister.

  17. First and foremost, Happy Birthday!

    I think you pretty much sum up my thoughts and process on birthday-related activities. i think the Hubby would forget when his own birthday was if i didn't make a fuss over it. Me, on the other hand, I start the count-down at the beginning of the month :)

    Wishing you a wonderful, slothful, spoiled (in the best way) birthday!

  18. Happy Birthday!

    I try to plan vacations for my birthdays when I can manage it. That way I'll be too busy/without phone reception to be hurt when everyone forgets or is too busy/sick AGAIN because my birthday falls in that birthday sucking black hole period around the holidays.

  19. I love birthdays, mine and everyone else's too. A friend of mine always says, "You can never hear 'Happy Birthday' too many times!" and I believe it.

    Celebrate every day, but especially birthdays. The world is so lucky to have you!

    And Happy Birthday, Crabby!

  20. I love birthdays :) Mainly lately to see what my BF will surprise me with! We seem to have gotten into the habit of not telling the birthday person the plans....and that works really well for me :)

  21. First of all, Happy Birthday. Don't want to forget that!!

    I have a neutral feeling toward birthdays. If people know and want to celebrate, fine, if they don't that's ok too. Hubby Dearest usually takes me out to eat, and the kids send gifts, but it really isn't a big deal. And it has nothing to do with the number I'm looking at each year. :)

    However, I LOVE celebrating other people's birthdays. I go all out. It's great fun.


    I love love love my birthday! A whole day to celebrate Me? Awesome. I think everyone should celebrate their birthdays to the fullest!

    Now go get that massage!

  23. Happy Birthday Crabby!!

    I loooove birthdays. I think it's because my parents made a huge deal of our birthdays when I was a kid. I pretty much love everything about them (ok, maybe not the number thing). I do agree however about the singing in restaurants. Painful.

    I hope you have a great day!!

  24. Happy birthday! I'm glad the Lobster spoils you. Just like certain things age us faster than others, some things keep us young. And I say one day a year of dedicated indolence, indulgence, and the reminder that you're loved are better than Botox.

    I LOVE my birthday although for some reason it always makes me a little teary...more about mortality than wrinkles.

  25. Okay, everybody gather 'round.

    Ready? Let go.

    Happy Birthday to You
    Happy Birthday to You
    Happy BIRTHday dear CRAB-by
    Happy Birthday to Youoooooooooo

    Oops. Sorry about that high note. Didn't mean to break that glass. Here, have some more champagne.

    And have a great day! It's weird that I don't like birthdays when they're my own -- I mean, the older I get the more comfortable I am being myself. Must be the effect of all that gravity.

  26. Happy birthday, Crabby! Wishing you plenty of cake!

    I'm neutral about birthdays. I enjoyed them when I was young, but after my 18th they weren't milestones anymore, and I lost interest.
    I was lucky to grow up surrounded by people who could sing. The first time I heard Happy Birthday sung by people who couldn't sing was a shock.
    And cake? I'm Right There.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  27. Happy Birthday! You look so young and fit.

    I love Birthdays because when I was a kid I wasn't allowed to celebrate them. When I turned 18 I moved out and put an end to that nonsense.

    I love when my children make handmade cards, notes, or big carved blocks of wood in woodshop and give them to me for my birthday. Nothing beats a kidmade gift.

    And I love it when one of my kids makes the birthday cake. I just feel so loved :)

  28. Birthdays? More like BirthWEEK, thankyouverymuch! But yeah, having the wait staff at Olive Garden singing to me is...how you say...icky. And I'm actually not that big a fan of birthday cake. (Unless it has that whipped cream frosting, like you get on a Cassada cake? Yummmm.)

    But I still love the birthday party. When I turned 40, I spit raspberries at 40. Nyah! I partied like I was two 20-year-olds.

    (Of course, 40 then jumped both of us in the parking lot, stole my martini shaker and left me in bed for a day and a half. But still...)

    A perfect birthday? Hiking in the woods or a really great bike ride or a round of golf, followed by pedicures and Mexican food with my honey and our friends. What could be better?

  29. Happy birthday! My daughter figured out how to sing the "Happy Birthday" song backwards & taught us & her friends. That was fun!

    I like birthday cake. Period.

    The birthday massage idea -- brilliant! Yep, indeed.

  30. Heh, Happy Birthday!
    Congratulations on surviving another year.


  31. Oh my goodness, thank you all for the birthday wishes and as usual you are totally cracking me up!

    Cranky Fitness commenters: Best Birthday Present Evah!!

  32. I always have found the whole singing candle thing to be...well...wierd. It was driven home again last spring when my 3 year old neice was plopped down infront of a lit up cake and we all looked at her and sang...and she was completely wierded out by us all looking at her and singing in unison...made me think about how wierd a thing it really is.

    The cake part is cool though :)

    PS - Happy Birthday :)

  33. Happy Birthday Miss Crab!

    Having recently celebrated mine, I can tell you that I like the low-key approach...although presents are ALWAYS welcomed! Too much attention is not good for me - my childhood shyness comes out and I just want everyone to focus on someone else. But this year was good - just the right amount of attention, presents and cake.

    Hope you have a wonderful day!!!

  34. Happy birthday, Crabster.

    I don't like the attention though I like to receive a phone call or card from a few people. I guess, recognition but not overly done recognition.

    I love birthday cake. We just finished Chris's cake last night. Devil's food, whip cream and strawberries. Yummy! His bday was the 3rd. If it had been my cake, I wouldn't have let it go past 24 hours.

  35. Happy birthday Crabby! Having reached the "WTF? How did I get this old??" stage I can take or leave any celebrations. But I'll always do cake. Especially if I get to pick it out!

  36. Happy Birthday! the only thing I hate about my birthday is that I keep getting older without becoming a mom and then I worry if I ever will. Other than that I think birthdays are great and getting older doesn't really bug me.


    Love them. Like you, I like getting "happy birthdays" but not the singing thing. Birthdays are so much fun! Any reason to celebrate.

  38. A few years ago, I started to take my vacation during the week of my birthday and do something that I wouldn't normally do. Last year, it was Utah and a trip down the Olympic bobsled course, this year, Key West and parasailing. It is a great way to spend my birthday and a tradition I hope to continue for many years!

    Wishing you an adventure filled birthday!

  39. Happy Birthday

    It sure beats hell out of the alternative, right?

    I hate surprises and strangers singing to me... but, I love seeing close friends and celebrating.

    Gifts - ok from loved ones, friends can save it, cause I don't wish to struggle over what weird thing they might want when the tables are turned.

  40. Happy Birthday, Crabby!

    I kind of like birthdays... I adore presents and I also like that we will usually eat out somewhere expensive where the food is really heaven!

    But cake I don't really do. The tradition here is the big pile o' dark chocolate from hubby!

  41. Happy Birthday!

    We sing a different song at our house (hard to sing it off-key, so it's pretty good):

    "Happy, Happy Birthday
    From all of us to you
    We wish it was our birthday
    So we could party, too!"

    Feel free to throw in a Spanish "Ole!" at the end. ;)

    Mine is --as Linteater so succinctly put it-- "in that birthday sucking black hole period around the holidays" and I'm paying the price (DIET) for Christmas treats. That sort of ruins the cake enjoyment. But a massage sounds like a wonderful gift!

    [oh, and I followed you home from The Smitten Image... or was it The Bag Lady? or Reb?]

  42. I love birthdays - mostly because it's fun to try to come up with a special way to mark everyone's special day.

    My oldest sister can't have a birthday without bursting into tears at some point during the day. Spending her birthday with her is usually a big downer.

    I'm happy if I can just get a GOOD piece of cake.

  43. Happy Birthday!

    We do birthday weeks in my family, but usually on my ACTUAL birthday, I like to stay home in my pj's, watching DVDs (now Blu-Rays) all day. And there MUST be some sort of pasta with cheesy, creamy sauce for dinner. I can skip the cake, but God help you if you get between me and my homemade (with heavy cream and lots of cheese) Fettucine Alfredo.

    No restaurant singing please, though. I hate that. I hated it MORE when I worked in a restaurant and had to SING THEM.

    But! There was one that we sang a LOT because we didn't totally hate it. So now, I'll sing it for you! (Lucky, lucky you.)

    (To the tune of the military "sound-off")
    I don't know, but I've been told
    Someone here is gettin' old!
    The good news is the sundae's free,
    The bad news is we sing off-key!
    Sound off!
    Sound off!
    Happy birthday - TO YOU!

    Yeah. You're welcome. ;)

  44. Hope it is the best birthday yet Crabby!! I laughed out loud for several minutes over the win-win comment about presents! I feel the same way. :-)

    Enjoy the massage, and the cake!!

  45. i'd sing you the birthday dirge, but it doesn't lend itself to writing. happy birthday!!!! i love em. i even celebrate my pets'.

  46. Happy Birthday, Crabby!

    When it comes to birthday's I love being fuzzed over. Day to day, not so much but I like to feel like a princess on my birthday. :-)

    ... plus it's like the only time of the year I get presents without having to give them too!

  47. Happy birthday!!!!!!
    I LOVE mt birthday! I love my kids' birthdays (maybe even more than they do), Hubby's b-day...pretty much ANY birthday.
    With my kids we get to decorate the house and have lots of CAKE. With Hubby's, it's another year spent together. With mine, well, it's all about ME!!!!!!!!

  48. Happy Birthday!!!!!

    Hmmm, I am a bit like you - love to be wished happy birthday without too much fuss.

    Enjoy your day!

  49. never ever been big on birthdays. yeah, i'd like mine acknowledged by people, but don't go crazy.

    but really, that's probably borne out of years of bitterness, given that i've tried to do stuff on several occasions and it's never worked out.

    still, i'd rather give than receive. seriously.


    And keep coming back, LOL!

    I am also of the crowd that likes OTHER PEOPLE'S birthdays best. I love celebrating my dog's birthday, and he does too! However I dread my own, so many crappy things have happened on that day over the years that I just try to lie low and hope the universe decides to pass me by. I figure if I get through unscathed and I get a decent piece of cake, even if I buy it myself from the market, it's "celebration" enough that I made it through the day without getting creamed. Sop it's mostly a time of reflection over the last year and ducking for me.

    For those who have people who celebrate you, rejoice and count your blessings and don't take those people for granted.

  51. Happy Birthday, Crabby!!!

    I love all birthdays, including my own. (Kind of hard not to with three eager faces--two little, one big--beaming at me across the cake.) I'd like to say that's always been so, but that wouldn't be honest. I've had a birthday or two in my past that I've pathetically commemorated via pity-party instead of hearty-party. (I know, what a waste!)

    I think the only birthdays that make me feel ooooold, though, are those of babies/toddlers from my 20-something years having *their* 20-something birthdays. Yeesh.

  52. I love everything about my birthday: from the attention to the spoiling!! i just turned 33 in Feb and I'm still telling people it "was" my birthday LOL...actually I celebrate it the whole month long....I know...I have issues :-)

  53. See what I mean? I got so caught up talking about my birthday, I forgot to wish you a happy one. Happy Birthday...hope your day is fabulous!! :-)

  54. Happy Birthday! I usually enjoy my birthdays, but I just turned 40, and I'm not what I thought I'd be. When I was in my 20's and trying to figure out life, I envied the women on talk-shows that loved being 40. So, I looked forward to it. I thought I'd have it all together by now...I'd be wise, healthy, full of confidence, a light in others' lives, know what I want, not care about others' opinions of me, be awesome in bed, etc.

    I gotta say, though, I'm so glad I'm not in my 20's anymore. I have come a long way...but, oh, so far to go...

    To celebrate, though, I really like walking/hiking in nature (forest, beach, desert...wherever I happen to be at the time). I'd give up my birthday cake for that.

  55. Happy birthday! (mine is Friday, and I know some other bloggers this week - must all be great, right!)

    Well, let's see...love 'em or hate 'em, eh?

    I guess I'm in the love 'em even though they're sometimes bittersweet camp. It's not that I don't miss my mom (who started the "we eat wherever the birthday girl wants" tradition) and it's not that I'm in love with the (drat) inevitable effects of aging and thinking "I actually AM old enough to be this guy's mother - ack!", it's that, almost 3 years out from my cancer diagnosis....
    and lucky enough to have a DH, family, and friends who are glad I'm here and who love me most all the days, even when I'm not as lovable as I might be.

    I only want attention from people close to me though - average coworkers who really couldn't care less, I don't even want to hear it from. I love celebrating other people's birthdays - a day to make a special fuss about how glad I am they exist and share their lives with me. (I do try to express that plenty of other days as well.)

    I do find it best to not compare birthdays now to birthdays as a kid - it's kind of like comparing Christmas - it's not the same, it can't possibly be, so go with the now and smile about the memory.

    Oh, and then there's cake. And cupcakes. And cookies. And biscotti. And any and every other food I might crave and usually skip. And getting to do whatever I want (ALWAYS take the day off work! only once I couldn't) So I'll sleep as late as I can, work out, maybe get a massage and who knows what else.

    I was going to do a birthday weekend, but I will have to give serious thought to starting the birthday week tradition! Have gone on vacation that week in the past a couple of times.

  56. Happy Birthday! I love 'em. Every year gets better. Will be 50 on my next one in 2010. When we lived in Korea, my hubby pulled off a surprise party for me with a LOT of people there. It was very fun. Most of the time, they are low-key.
    Path to Health

  57. Thank you SO MUCH everyone! You really helped make my birthday special.

    Had a lovely day, which include my favorite "rock walk" out on the jetty; a massage; a wonderful dinner out at a favorite restaurant; great presents from the Lobster; and of course, a cupcake! Well, there's more than one in that little pink box and I can't just let them go to waste...

  58. Mine is now less than 2 weeks away... I feel the day should be marked but I don't need to go crazy: cake (chocolate), champagne, and a selection of cards (usually some hand made by my kids) are what I like. I won't say no to gifts either but my hubby is great at small gifts "just because" when he sees something I will like which takes pressure off the birthday itself

  59. Happy (belated!) Birthday!
    Bravo, another great post... you summed it up perfectly for me and how I feel about birthdays. I LOVE birthdays, especially mine =) And that's not just because I'm still young, either. I will always love them!

    My dad says there's an age when birthdays should stop being celebrated with lots of presents and cake and celebrations on that day, and that age is about 11 years old. I disagree! By not celebrating someone's birthday, it's like saying you don't care about the day that person came into existence, and you don't care they're alive-- so celebrate away!!!

    1. Ditto
    2. Ditto
    3. Ditto
    4. Ditto.... (you get the idea!)

    Thanks, Crabby!

  60. Like you, I hate the attention, and I also feel the song is a little lame, and usually always a forced one. I would rather just have nobody know how the hell old I am! But, here's to you, and have a happy one, and many more to come!

  61. Happy Birthday Crabby!! I must say, I'm with you 100% on the birthday post. I love, love, love birthdays....mine, my kid's, my husband's, my friend's, my neighbor's, the random stranger on the street's.....well, you get the idea. My personal philosophy is that birthday's are the one special day every year that's just for you and everyone deserves to be the center of attention and celebrate themselves a little bit!! So, Happy Birday to you (and me in a couple of weeks!!) let's all enjoy a little cake and a lot of fun!


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