Once a year, our birthday comes round. Once a year, we get the chance to celebrate this occasion maybe by doing something wild, or something low-key.
Next month is my birthday. I’ve never done much for my birthdays and this year will be no different. Part of me simply doesn’t like a big fuss. A big part of me is simply introverted and really does not like being the centre of attention.
When we celebrate our birthdays, we treat ourselves to me-time. A time where we do something we want to do and really just have a good time. There are so many ways to have fun on your birthday and make each one a one to remember:
1. Classroom or office (surprise) celebration
Big chances are our birthday will be on a day where we’re at school or work. Where we work and study takes up a sizable chunk of our lives; our classmates and colleagues are usually mild-mannered acquaintances. Many years ago at quite a few corporate offices where I’ve worked in Australia, whenever there was a birthday coming up my colleagues eagerly arranged special afternoon teas with cake and junk food. Come to think of it, it was a good excuse to get away from work.
If you’ve got great friends at school, they might hype up your birthday with a party in class. My 16th birthday was spent at school in Singapore: during English class (my favourite subject), the teacher got the class to sing Happy Birthday to me. I didn’t know how to react to the song – as I’ve asked, what do you do when people sing Happy Birthday to you? I felt awkward and gaped at my class. Then one of my classmates and best friend handed me a cup full of goodies. I poured out the contents. A rat the size of a matchbox lept out at me – I shouted in horror. The class laughed.
It was fake. I still have that rat today.
2. Getaway trip
Go on a road trip. Climb a tree. Climb a mountain. Ride a rollercoaster. Zip down a zip line. Bungee jump. That is, celebrate your birthday by being adventurous and go on a once in a lifetime experience: go the distance, sweating and screaming at the top of your lungs in exhilaration or fear until you piss your pants and gear up for another round of washing.
3. Go home
Spend your birthday by going home to where you grew up or to the place that speaks to you. Go home to a home-cooked meal or a place where you got up to no good and got away with it. To a place where the heart is.
Last year, the day before my birthday, my parents offered to bring chicken stir fry over to my place. I hate turning down free food and so they came over. After dinner, my parents left – and right before walking out the door, they put a cake on the table.
4. Grown-up partying
Hit the clubs. Hit the dance floor and move that body. Paint the town read all night until the sun comes up. Have a round of shots or two or more until you actually hit the floor. This will probably never be me because I’m not a fan of clubbing or drinking and I like to remember moments lived.
5. Do something at home
Nothing like lazing around at home and do the relaxing things that you’ve always wanted to do. Read. Watch TV. Laze about in bed and YouTube and Netflix. Stay indoors if you don’t have much in your wallet. As fellow blogger Christy Birmingham wrote about birthdays and money, if you’re stressed with money, build a fort at home and create a movie theatre experience. Have colouring book parties. Organise ‘throwback parties’ in the backyard involving wheelbarrow races, three-legged race and egg and spoon race.
6.Get silly (with food)
Challenge yourself to eat one hundred chilli chicken wings in one go. Or fifty packets of potato chips. Go on a dumpling-eating binge. Have an-all-you-can-eat cake challenge.
Have a day for yourself with no plans, no commitments. Take the day off school or work. Wake up whenever, do whatever, go wherever. Spontaneously call up a bunch of friends or venture out on your own and see where that leads you. Go where the heart wants to be and where the heart is, reminding yourself you deserve to be happy. Of if you are a lazy, often-sleep-deprived girl like me, waking up at noon, having a quick lunch and going back to sleep is not a bad idea.
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With each birthday that comes along, there’s the notion of cake, the Happy Birthday song, candles and wishing. According to history, the first birthday cake originated in Germany in the Middle Ages. The Greeks made round cakes to honour Atermis, goddess of the moon; the lit candles represent a glowing moon and smoke from candles carried prayers to the heavens above. The Egyptians and Pharaohs also arguably started the party, whichever part of history you want to believe.
Why celebrate your birthday? Is it one year older, one year wiser? With each birthday comes a milestone – another year gone by, another year of history behind us. We are history and we are the stories of our lives as much as the stories of someone else’s lives and this world’s. With each birthday, it’s a chance to celebrate milestones of where we’ve been and where we are right now. Celebrate the fun that is in the now.
Sometimes your birthday and the days before and after it can be the most exhausting time of the year, and also the most social. More often than not, those around you will have different ideas in mind on celebrating your birthday. You might feel like you’re celebrating your birthday not once, but many times over with different people at different places. It can be hard saying ‘no’ to such well-intentioned people who literally go out of their way to make time for you.
And so, a birthday is not only about celebration and not only about receiving gifts but also the thought behind it all. Even if it’s a Facebook message from someone you haven’t spoken to in years – while Facebook reminded them it’s your birthday, they took the effort to write you a few words. I do respond to all of them on my Facebook wall but however, can never tell if the well-wishers are just being polite.
How do you celebrate your birthday?