Every year I wake up on January 29th, and I’ve turned another year older. For the last five or so years I’ve been annually awoken with the multiple greetings spattered across my social media page (Facebook) exclaiming salutations towards my day of birth. This usually sets my heart into a state of warmth and, “Aww I haven’t talked to Susy Chapstick since senior year at Maci Mascara’s house party.”
Every year I make it a point to sit down at the end of my birthday evening, to actually read through and respond to my birthday wishes. *My mother is notorious for having my sister and I send thank you notes, make calls of thanksgiving, etc. so I always figure I’ll do “the Jil!” a solid and respond individually.* This year, however, I felt a wide range of emotions as I responded to these comments. Ask anyone around me, and they’ll tell you I felt quite cynical towards turning one-shy of twenty five, so maybe that’s where this angst induced rant came from. Something about twenty four made me finally ask myself the question of, “Who actually wishes me a happy birthday? Who are these people?”
After sitting and staring at my computer screen for several minutes in complete awe, I realized that I had hardly spoken to ¾ of the well-wishers in the previous four or so years. Following this epiphany, I immediately attempted to organize the different “types” of happy birthday messages that I received from people and those who sent them for you. I know, I need to take up yoga again or something else semi-productive. Anyway, here’s what I have come up with.
The first kind of message was the kind from people like my fiancé, my sister, my closest friends, and assorted family members. 9/10 of these wonderful people had either called me or sent me a hilarious, “Happy birthday ya old hussy” message filled with a heinous emoji before the day was out. One of my absolute favorites this year came from one of my oldest and closest friends Amy, who now lives in FL filled with inside jokes that anyone but 8th grade Jordan had long since forgotten and now can’t stop laughing about.
These are the people that you likely know through a friend of a friend of a family member. Perhaps you were my waiter at the Olive Garden and I thought you were a nice person, so I added you on Facebook. I couldn’t tell you this person’s middle name, where they went to high school, or what kind of book they’d like to read—but I can place the name/face. I’m equal parts flattered, and suspicious of why they’d take their time to wish me a happy birthday.
Your parent’s friend
Since you’re the offspring of their friend, they’ve added you on Facebook. They’ve also liked numerous pictures that you’ve posted with your parents in them and assorted life events. You’ve constantly asked those around you, “Who is *insert parent’s friend name*?” and been genuinely stumped that you can’t figure them out. Until your parent tells you, “Sandra—you know Sandra, from my BUNKO club? She said that she saw the sweetest picture of you and Matt the other day!“ and it suddenly all makes sense. Thank you, friend of my parent liking my parents enough to wish their genetic reproduction a happy birthday. You’re cool.
This one makes me laugh in multiple ways. There should really be a sub category here. There are the coworkers that will wish you a happy birthday on Facebook, and subsequently will smile and wish you a happy birthday in person, or even via interoffice email. These people make my life happy. On the other side of the sliding scale, you have the people that have obviously forgotten to look at Facebook and then feel horrible for not wishing you a happy birthday at work and do so when they get home via everyone’s favorite personal public space. I love these people too, because I’m forever one of you.
The one that could have at least sent you a text
This is my least favorite. Although we are all guilty of doing this at least a couple of times a year, it still doesn’t feel great being on the receiving line of the happy birthday from the person that you thought would care enough to send you a text message, or send you a HBD Snapchat of their dark bedroom. All this does is tell me just how little you value our “friendship” and make me make a mental note that I’m going to be just as petty as you are and not text you on your birthday, either. Why? Because, I’m a ginger and I’m wicked fantastic at holding a grudge. Alright, I’ll feel too guilty to not text you on your birthday–but I’ll curse you while I send it.
The awkward (non) acknowledgement
For me, this always seems to be the random boys from high school that used to message me things like, “hey sup” and then a “?” after my two day non-acknowledgement of their poor attempt at gleaning my attention. The “HBD” you left on my Facebook timeline makes me remember just how awkward your messages used to make me feel for you, and how little I want to ever attend a class reunion.
The unexpected kindness
I was blessed with several of these this year. These messages are from people that you associate often enough with online or in person to expect to hear from them, or at least hope to. These people go beyond the, “Happy birthday” or “Happy birthday, Jordan!” to add a heartfelt note of birthday adoration into your day. As I’m typing one sticks out in my mind right now is one from someone I consider a high school acquaintance, and an online pal, Nicole.
“Happy birthday!! Jordan, you have such a beautiful spirit and heart. I hope your day overflows with love and happiness!” Well, Nicole, you made my day and I smiled really big when I read and responded to your salutation! (PSNicole has a super cool blog, you can find her here!)
This year, the coolest unexpected kindness birthday messages came from parents of students current and past. They all brought tears to my eyes, and helped me remember why I didn’t even think about taking a “mental health” day on my birthday!
The one that forgot
The friend that you really expected to hear from, and didn’t. This one stings.
The sad truth about Facebook and birthdays comes fully into perspective when I am taking a whole ten seconds out of my morning to post on various people’s timelines to wish them a happy birthday and realize that I’m quite desensitized to the entire social norm of birthdays. Since using Facebook, wishing my “friends” a happy birthday has become a robotic, methodical part of waking up. Still, I think that I like to create a personal memento with my “standard” birthday greeting by adding a little extra note or quip about our friendship. Recently I wished a friend a happy birthday and called him by his freshman year nickname—which although I’m entirely sure was appreciated, I know he paused as he was reading it to think about it!
Don’t get it warped, I LOVE birthdays. I adore being serenaded around my family’s dinner table, I love the rush of opening birthday cards and gifts, and I especially look forward to listening to my grandparent’s singing me happy birthday on the wrong day. As much as I’d like to think otherwise, I truly do look forward to waking up next January 29th 2016 and beyond to see how many of these wonderful people took their ten seconds to immortalize their birthday words onto my Facebook life.