Singing the Birthday Blues… and no, it’s not my birthday

I have a fantasy that one day I will work among adults who do not celebrate their birthdays.

It’s not that I deny I’m getting older (still alive at 55). It’s just that I’m an adult now and frankly, it seems a little silly. Living one more year isn’t that big of an accomplishment. Most people manage it.

But more than that, there’s something else about birthdays that I really hate. Like, really really really hate. And people who know me are aware and act accordingly.

Last year for my birthday, Daughter drew a picture for me that highlights my feelings exactly. I will share it with you now when it is not my birthday because… Hello? Have you been listening?

Birthday blues (1)
That’s me in the Groucho Marx glasses.

I hate the attention. Can’t stand it. During any party my primary thought is, “if I leave, will anyone notice?” So when I’m the guest of honor, the answer is usually “No.”

Not always, but usually.

I’m aware that my dislike of parties can be an issue for my friends and family. Most of whom are very generous and loving and effusive with their emotions. Which is annoying as hell.

Honestly. I need to find new friends.

But work? Work should be free of birthday celebrations because, you know, it’s work. Yet at every place I’ve been, birthdays are all the rage.

At my last job, I had to tell my boss to please stop giving me flowers. She usually did it at the beginning and end of the school year, on Admin Assistant Day, my birthday, and all major holidays. I think she once did it on National Eat a Pickle Day. Not sure.

The thing is, Husband knows not to send me flowers at work and it never occurred to me to tell anyone else. If I’m in the hospital? Sure. Bring it on. If I’m home? Better yet. But at work? Nuh-uh. No way, no how.

Reason being:

“Oh how pretty – what’s the occasion?!”
“Is it your birthday? Oh my gosh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!”
“Ooooh, how beautiful! Lucky you!”
“Are those from your husband or do you have a secret admirer? Haha!”

People who normally never talk to me — and honestly, it’s my favorite thing about them — are suddenly talking to me!

My God!!!

As I mentioned before, I now work at a convent. I have also stated that I am enjoying this job very much. It seems to have all the criteria for happy employment: meaningful work, pleasant coworkers, peaceful environment. I feel quite lucky.

Sadly, it has a downside. I became aware of it just two short days into the job, during lunchtime. I was in the dining hall enjoying a lovely bowl of tomato basil soup with croutons on top.

Have you ever put croutons in your soup? It’s quite good. You should try it.

Suddenly someone starts singing that damned birthday song. I look around and there by the dessert tray stands the poor slob to whom the entire dining hall is now singing.

But wait, it’s not just one verse! Because they’re Franciscan Sisters, they have to give it their own special flair.

Here’s the verse they add: “God’s blessings on you, God’s blessings on you,” etc. With their hands stretched out for the blessing.

Beings how it was only my second day, and beings how I didn’t know the person to whom they were singing, I figured it was a fluke. Sadly, it was not.

When it was repeated a couple weeks later, I knew it was their custom. An insane, diabolical custom in an otherwise sane environment.

At the time I was sitting next to Mr. and Mrs. Boss. Once the song was over, I turned to them and said, “By the way, I’ll be taking my birthday off this year.”

“Oh really? Do you have something fun planned?”

“No. I just won’t be here.”

Fast forward a few months and… well, two things are at play here. For one, I tend to forget things. Birthdays among them, including my own.

I would have missed last year’s completely had it not been for Husband. No kidding.

The other thing? The particular department I work for has a custom of taking the birthday person out for lunch, usually the week after. The birthday person chooses the location and everyone else chips in. In other words, it’s a free lunch of your choosing.


Mr. Boss asked if I’d like to do the celebration on my actual birthday, rather than the week after. I thought, hey, I’ll miss the dining hall sing-a-long!  “Um… sure!”

I chose a local joint called Sanchez Burritos. It’s a little like Chipotle – you go through the line and choose your toppings for a burrito, taco salad, rice bowl, quesadilla, etc. Only in this case, the place is run by three cousins from Honduras and all their sauces and meats are prepared on site.

You should get a whiff of this place. *swoon*

As can be expected, eating with four Sisters and a man who attended seminary (though chose marriage over priesthood), they all prayed as soon as they sat down. I waited patiently.

Then Mr. Boss pulls a surprise. He has us all hold hands while he says a blessing – for Me! Giving thanks I was born, moved to Minnesota, took this job, yada-yada.

Never had THAT happen before!

My face

Anyway. We wound up having a discussion regarding birthdays. It shouldn’t have surprised me – Mr. Boss remembered what I said at that lunch several months ago and planned accordingly.

This is what happens when people live their lives focused outward. They not only remember someone’s preferences, they act on them. Amazing.

Two of the Sisters admitted they avoid the dining hall on their birthdays for the same reason I did. “I eat in my room” one told me. The other said, “I just deal with it.”

Sister LaVonne said, “I think the celebration should reflect the person being celebrated. If they don’t like attention, you should respect that.”

I had a similar conversation once with Daughter, who is as much an introvert as I am. Her feeling was that if people care about you so much as to say, “Hey, glad you’re still alive bucko,” then you should be thankful there are such people in the world and just suck it up. Besides, you might get cake.

My thinking more closely aligned with Sister LaVonne: “Please go away.”

You know, I’d really like to hear your opinions on this subject and since I’ve never done a poll before, it’s time we start. We’ll make it multiple choice and we’ll even include a write-in option for you creative types.

Next week I’ll be out of town and in all likelihood not posting – unless I pull one out of the vaults. Haven’t decided yet.

In any case, I’ll give you the results of our birthday poll the week after that.
Please choose wisely. The fate of adult birthday parties is in your hands.

Not really, but let’s pretend.

19 thoughts on “Singing the Birthday Blues… and no, it’s not my birthday

  1. “People who normally never talk to me — and honestly, it’s my favorite thing about them ”

    ROFL..I’m laughing too hard to type it out…I understand that sentiment, but on another note. I have you by a couple of decades, and I gotta tell you, me and Maxine (do you know Maxine?…if not just google “Maxine quotes’) we celebrate every morning that we get up and see our breath on the mirror!!

    I love your sense of humor. I say let them throw you a party. If you don’t like the gifts, just pass them on at Christmas time…leave the tags on until you rewrap them (do rewrap them, people generally prefer “Merry Christmas on their Christmas packages). Leaving the tags on helps prevent the embarrassment of giving the gift back to the person who gave it to you
    in the first place. Of course, if it is a really horrid gift, that is the just thing to do. Happy ‘not your” birthday. Have a good week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I know Maxine! Great quotes. 😀
      One time I was regifted something in gift bag and the person obviously didn’t check the tissue paper very well. There was a small card in it addressed to them which included a Target gift card for $20. So I was left with a dilemma. If I gave it back to them, they’d know I knew they regifted and get embarrassed. But if I don’t… is that stealing? My ethics class didn’t cover that kind of thing.
      In the end I gave it to a friend.
      Yeah, I regifted my regift.
      Yet another reason why I don’t like birthdays! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post. ❤ So funny.

    I’m not a big celebrator of birthdays and honestly find it a bit silly I guess when one becomes an adult. I’m also an introvert who doesn’t like all that “being the centre of attention” stuff. I find it exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? One woman I worked with lived for that sort of attention and got seriously upset if it didn’t happen. She’d even warn people leading up to her birthday what she was expecting.
      Like, seriously? Are we five years old? 🙄


  3. It what makes me love having a home based business. I can annoy myself on my birthday and no one is the wiser. Personally it’s an excuse to buy a key lime pie. And have it with the alcohol mentioned on the poll above.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you CJ – let the birthdays pass with minor acknowledgements at best. It’s bad enough a good meal gets interrupted by the noisy table singing the song. But birthday cake… okay, you have a point there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So funny. And I’m in complete agreement. I try to go far far away for my birthday, but I like to spend it doing what I want to do, not what other people want or think I want to do! And I really don’t like anyone buying me stuff. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful but I really don’t enjoy getting gifts anymore, unless I can eat, drink or spend it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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