…because some thoughts are worth remembering
My husband’s family practices time-shifting in celebrating birthdays and other celebrations. Why rush to celebrate your birthday in the middle of the week when you are stressed out and tired from work? It makes sense to me. As someone who was born in Japan, the birthday celebration is not a big deal and because Japan was a day earlier, I felt it was weird to be picky about what day I celebrated my birthday in the U.S.
Since buying into this family tradition, I realized the time-shifting concept can apply to any celebrations. It doesn’t make sense to go out on Valentine’s Day for dinner when restaurant reservations are harder to come by, crowded, offering special menus (usually over-priced to capitalize on the occasion). I’ve forbidden my husband from buying flowers (esp. for Valentine’s Day). I was going to “stick it to the man (or Hallmark)” by celebrating my love for my husband on any day I chose (and why limit to that day?). I don’t need that kind of reminder or pressure.
My friend introduced me another variation of it to maximize the joy of celebrations: expanding it. It started when she had to introduced herself after a roomful of people identified themselves in the standard business manner. She decided to pump the energy into the room by saying her birthday was coming up. It wasn’t a lie. Just as “The Starks are always right eventually; winter is coming” in the Game of Thrones, unless it was her birthday that day, her birthday would always be coming up. Her (early) birthday announcement broke the tension in the room, with an added bonus that she started receiving birthday cards and gifts way before her birthday. Since then, she has coined this maneuver and the period between when she announced her birthday and her actual birthday, her birthday season.
I love that she thinks big. I’ve given my husband a birthday weekend… Friday night with work colleagues, Saturday night with one circle of friends, Sunday brunch with friends who have kids who prefer to go out during the day time. I’ve been a bit shy so we’ve had a birthday week, which we thoroughly enjoyed. But a birthday season? That’s something I have yet to take on.This year’s adventures reminded me that there is no “one size fits all” for celebrations. I had very little expectations of celebrating my birthday for many reasons. We are without a permanent address or a phone number, moving from one friend’s place to another in the middle of the birthday. We were still getting over a slight jet lag if not general fatigue and confusion from lack of structured daily routines as we visited friends we haven’t seen in a long time and ran errands to get ourselves more established back in the U.S. (not to mention job hunting, which seems to be a demoralizing process regardless of what mental state you were in before). Perhaps it is not having expectations or having been too used to time-shifting celebrations, but getting an old fashioned Hallmark card from the in-laws on time made my day. There is a place and time for letting some traditions to take over your life, and that’s my birthday.
Photo: A fried shrimp head, usually served when you order raw sweet shrimp (amaebi) sushi. That’s what I asked for my birthday, and it got upsized: two fried shrimp heads of botan ebi (larger than amaebi).