7 Reasons To Not Celebrate Your Birthday

Our birthday comes around once a year. Our birthday, that one day usually reminding us of another year gone by. Not all of us are keen on celebrating this so-called ‘special day‘.

I’m one of these people. Never have been keen on celebrating my birthday, which is coming up next week. Every year I try to keep this day as quiet as possible, going about the day as per normal and sort of forgetting that it’s my birthday.

Birthdays and cake. Time for reflection.

Birthdays and cake. Time for reflection | Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely.

It’s not that I have anything against celebrating birthdays. Last year I wrote a post on 7 Unforgettable Ways To Celebrate Your Birthday. I’m all up for celebrating other’s birthdays. Just not mine.

A birthday is significant in that it symbolises life: it signifies the day we came to life and became a part of this world. It signifies another year of ups and downs behind us. It’s about celebrating being human, a milestone which some of us are inclined to celebrate. However, some of us have our reasons for keeping our birthday a low-key affair – some reasons personal, some reasons tied to our personality, and some reasons down to what we believe in.

Reasons to not celebrate birthdays

1. We don’t want a fuss

Birthdays can be a time where the spotlight is on us. Some of us simply don’t like attention on us. We might be shy. We might have anxiety and birthday surprises might not sit well with us. We could be introverted and birthday attention from a big group might heighten our socialising phobia.

Birthday blues or birthday anxiety disorder can be a very real thing. According to psychologist Debra Kissen, anytime that you are supposed to be happy can be a setup for disappointment; birthdays can be setups for anxiety as there is the pressure to have a memorable birthday in this comparative world.

As someone with anxiety, birthday surprises don’t make me feel good. Even a I-know-planned-before-hand birthday celebration makes me jittery. The worst is when people sing Happy Birthday to me – these situations I don’t know what to do and feel too embarrassed to smile down at a candle-lit cake. Over the years I’ve gotten better at hanging out with close friends for a meal or catch-up around my birthday; they’d most definitely say, ‘Happy Birthday’ and I  go along with it.

2. Comparative competition

Following on from the first point, there often is the pressure to make a birthday a fun one. In general, society sees birthdays as rolling good times, a time where we do what we want and get what we want. Have a good celebration one year, there could be the expectation to have an equally enjoyable or lavish one the following year – and all birthday hype can leave one disappointed if birthday plans don’t go according to plan or no one shows up if anyone was invited. It’s important to remember that no two moments are the same, no two years are the same and usually no two birthdays are the same.

Some things are more important than your birthday.

Some things are more important than your birthday.

3. Spending money

Depending on how we choose to spend our birthday, we might shell out a fair bit for the occasion and feel poorer after that. For instance, we might go all out extravagant and lavish celebrating our birthday: renting a jumping castle, going on a cruise, spending a night at a penthouse suite, going on an all-night pub-hopping bender or all of that. If we have lots of friends, there might be numerous birthday catch-ups and unless our friends pay for our share, this hurts the wallet.

I’m quite the frugal person and see myself as simple and pretty low maintenance, and don’t like spending unless it’s absolutely necessary. A simple meal out is already a nice treat to me just as hanging out with someone at the shopping mall. That said, spending and doing something can create memories for a long time to come and memories that we want to remember.

4. Negative experiences

For some of us, our past birthdays might have coincided with moments we’d rather forget or a sensitive time. Having a celebratory time let alone putting on a brave face as others sing Happy Birthday to us could be rather inappropriate; sometimes the past hurts too much and is unforgettable. That said, choosing to view birthdays as a positive occasion – another year, still here, much achieved – can be a way of moving on.

Some birthdays come with expectation.

Some birthdays come with expectation.

5. This day isn’t just about me

Some things need more attention and are more important than the fact that it is our birthday. This could be showing up for work and keeping our pay check, walking the dog, cooking for the kids or just being there for someone. In other words, the world doesn’t stop or revolve around us all the time, on our birthday inclusive. Some of us might recognise this, and so see our birthdays as a good time to raise awareness for a certain cause, rallying others to join in the good fights to help make the world a better place.

6. It’s just another day

No reason why we can’t celebrate our birthday on any other day. No reason why we can’t celebrate our achievements, milestones, our existence and be thankful for life on any other day. No reason why we can’t have birthday cake any other day.

When I grew up in Singapore and Malaysia, my birthday fell on a public holiday. That meant each year annoyingly enough my birthday wasn’t an ordinary day: I didn’t have to go to school and my friends would use this as the perfect excuse to drag me out and hang out. This was also the time before Facebook and social media, and at night my house phone would ring incessantly because my friends called to say Happy Birthday.

Your day can be celebrated any day.

Your day can be celebrated any day.

7. More than a celebration

The important things in life are usually more than a day of one-off celebrations. For those of us who value trust, loyal relationships and meaningful time spent, chances are we’d rather have people who’d be there for us anytime, any day as opposed to half a day of attention from others and not hearing back from them until next year. Sure, all of us lead busy lives and our birthday is probably one of the only times others might be willing to make some time for us – which is nice. But there’s nothing like having others be there for us when we need it.

It’s no surprise then that there can be a sort of unwanted fakery that comes along with celebrating birthdays. These days social media has a habit of ‘reminding’ each other of our birthdays and without this digital reminder we may never wish someone Happy Birthday. And so sometimes one can’t help but feel birthday wishes are insincere.

As someone who isn’t into social media that much, I turn off my Facebook wall on my birthday. Instead of an all-out, all night long birthday celebration, I’d rather have one of my friends randomly call me for a good long chat right about when I get home after a long day and ready to eat a hot pizza, which I will eventually eat cold. Or a one-second hello each day from someone who means it well. Or just having a good sleep and nice snacks to eat.

*  *  *

There are also other reasons to not celebrate our birthday, albeit trivial reasons that make us want to avoid the fact our birthday is our birthday. If we openly acknowledge or celebrate our birthday we could get people pestering us how old we are (age is a personal thing), people telling us how young we look (body image is also a personal thing), receiving unwanted presents, having to smile when someone wishes us Happy Birthday in person and we aren’t in a great mood, or just putting up with all day obligatory ‘Happy Birthdays’ online and offline. Consequently, no reason why some of us would rather spend our birthdays alone and not mention it.

The way we feel about our birthdays can change over time.

The way we feel about our birthdays can change over time.

What we do for our birthday or how we think about our birthday can change as we get older or go through different phases in life. At different times of our lives different things will be important to us.

Research suggests that young children believe birthday parties cause ageing; the more birthday parties one has, the older they seem. Other research shows that the year before milestone birthdays could be the hardest for some, experiencing a ‘crisis of meaning’ – and some might be more prone to extra-marital affairs or signing up to run a marathon. Thus at one point in our lives our birthdays could be innocent celebrations and motivating occasions, other times simply reflective times or a fleeting thought we’d rather not entertain.

Birthdays are almost always occasions where relationships collide. Birthdays come around once a year and it’s not usually easy remembering someone’s birthday. As such, even if we don’t celebrate, birthdays can be a time where we see who will show up or wish us well and figure out who is likely to be there for us when we need it. However, whether someone remembers our birthday or not doesn’t entirely define our relationship with them as a friendship or any kind of relationship is built up over time and countless moments in between.

On our birthdays, sometimes we just want to belong.

On our birthdays, sometimes we just want to belong.

That said, it is nice (or creepy) when someone thinks of us on our birthday no matter how much we avoid celebrating or acknowledging it, and thinking of us any other time really. It’s a sign that someone appreciates our existence even for just one day, acknowledging our presence. At the end of the day, most of us want to belong at least for a moment, even the birthday Grinchs among us. That’s when we realise who and what we’ve got. On self-realisation, host and Youtuber Chris Burkmenn said:

‘We often lose ourselves to where we think we should be, rather than celebrate where we already are.’

I really do like a quiet birthday. Being the practical person that I am, no one owes me their time unless they absolutely want to be around me and persist with wanting to be around me – and when that happens I will show them a good time…even on my birthday. Looking at the bigger picture, there’s much to be thankful for every other day, and maybe our birthdays are really a reminder of that.

Do you avoid celebrating your birthday?

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258 thoughts on “7 Reasons To Not Celebrate Your Birthday

  1. I had my birthday last week (age undisclosed) and chose not to have it a big event. In fact i turned off all my social media and not a single person wished me a happy birthday except my brother and mum. I couldn’t be happier. I celebrated the day by going for a 2 hour bike ride then cooking a super cheesy lasagna and then drank a little too much ale. Best day ever! 🙂

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    • Happy belated birthday, Kevin. Sounds like you enjoyed it heaps without all the social media fanfare – low key and relaxing. Super cheesy lasagna sounds delicious and I bet you savoured every bite and the ale was cherry on top. Many happy returns for this year ahead 🙂

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  2. Lovely pancakes 🥞😋🐒

    I used to be all about my birthday. Not so much having a showy, expensive time but just making sure everyone was well aware of my birthday month (yes, I celebrated all month).

    Interestingly, Facebook changed that for me. Once I had this mass media tool for getting the word out, I was no longer interested in getting the word out. My birthday is shut off on social media platforms and I like spending the day quietly with birthday greetings from family and a few old friends who actually know it’s my birthday because they know …not because they received a FB reminder.

    Maybe I’m just getting old 👵🏻

    Happy Early Birthday

    Liked by 1 person

  3. U are right. I used to be one of those people who used to be hugely excited about my birthday. But then, i don’t know, something in me changed, and now i hardly feel like jumping around in joy celebrating the day.
    Just a quite meal out with my best people, talking about anything and everything, would be a much better treat than having an extravagant celebration for people who just turn up ‘for the food’ 😂

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  4. All very good reasons Mabel not to celebrate your birthday. That said, your post made me feel very hungry and given I’m living the low carb life, all those cakes and treats had me drooling and my eyes popping.

    I had a 21st birthday party because I ‘had to’. As the eldest child, it was expected. Since then, when a so-called big number, 30, 40 and 50, have passed, no party. I’m happy with a nice dinner, but parties aren’t for me. I don’t even feel that uptight about presents.

    I hope next week, you have a happy day, a day you can enjoy and not necessarily a day where the expectations of others will dominate.

    Since we share the same day, I know for me, I’ll probably go to a local club and enjoy a schnitty and some chips 😃

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    • Well you birthday is coming up, Gaz. You might want to allow yourself a bit of a treat and have a cake or two 😀

      We share the same sentiments about presents. The surprise that comes with receiving a present is usually a good feeling 😂

      Yes we share the same day and it falls on a weekday this year. For me it will be a regular work day 😃 I hope you have a good and happy day next week, and most importantly enjoy hot chips with some good sauce 😃

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  5. I love your yearly birthday posts my friend! This one I found myself relating to quite a lot. I too don’t like the attention (especially the dreaded Happy Birthday song!) and I prefer to keep that day simple and in line with what makes me happy. This year, I really don’t want to celebrate as I am getting older and finding that I would rather save money than go out for the evening (plus I will be close to my due date by then!). I agree that we should celebrate every single day, not just the day of the birth. Feeling grateful to be alive. Feeling thankful for the family and friends who acknowledge us on random days not just the ones with meaning. I will of course be messaging you on your birthday – I cannot help it! But know that I appreciate you 365 days a year not just on that day. I also don’t need FB to remind me it’s your birthday. Every year I put it in my diary 🙂 it matters to me. Lots of love! Here’s to another year older and wiser! xx

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    • ‘I prefer to keep that day simple and in line with what makes me happy’ You said it so well! We do share the same sentiments about birthdays: keeping it low key and appreciating every single day for what it is and what we’ve got. It is so nice of you to think of me and my birthday each year You are beyond kind and it is such an honour to know you and be your friend. Many more good years of friendship to come. And I will be certainly wishing you Happy Birthday on your birthday, my friend 🙂

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  6. I wonder who had started this tradition of birthday celebrations! While I agree with all the reasons you have listed Mabel, I would still say birthday is a very special day, it may not be for you or the birthday boy or girl, it holds a special significance for parents, a day, which can never lose its value for them, a day that brought a new bubbly life into their hands…a day to cherish! I have always celebrated the birthdays of my children and now those moments are amongst the most memorable ones for them as well as me.

    A birthday becomes memorable when it is celebrated with those who happen to be your loved ones…even if one or ten. Birthday may become just another day for us with age but those who love us still make it a point to remember it. ‘Unwanted fakery’ has no doubt crept into our special days and many people just wish for the sake of wishing, I like your suggestion of turning off your Facebook wall! On the other hand, there are people who start celebrating one month before the actual birth date…putting up pictures each weekend…they have their own reasons!!

    I must mention when I started hating birthday cakes…when this ritual of smearing it at the face of the one who is celebrating started!! What does it prove…I can never figure out!!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY in advance dear friend and birthday hugs.

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    • You bring up such a great point when you say that a birthday is special to those around you, especially parents and those closest to you. Life really is to be cherished, and some do hold very fond memories of your birthday.

      Unwanted fakery is everywhere these days and sometimes too much of it can be hurtful and harmful. Sometimes I feel people wish each other Happy Birthday out of politeness and feel if they don’t, they will offend you. That is so true some people start celebrating their birthday for a whole month! Fair enough if they want to and see it as a good excuse to catch up with friends. If I were to celebrate my birthday all month, I will probably need the entire next month to recuperate.

      So agree that the smearing cake on face is unusual. It seems like a complete waste of cake! Thank you for the well wishes my friend. You are very kind 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Mabel, thanks for another thought provoking article!
    When I was young and stupid, I used to think that people who didn’t want to celebrate their birthday were robbing me of an excuse to party just because they were ashamed of their age. As I’ve matured, I’ve realised that loud drunken parties aren’t all I used to think they were. My last couple of birthdays have slipped by un-celebrated, marked only by Facebook well-wishes from former party goers (who also no longer celebrate!).
    Hopefully you can spend each day next week doing what you want, living how you want, and being happy because life is good to you everyday, not just on your birthday. Cheers!

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    • Well, birthdays are an excuse to party if you are up for it… 😀 I think drunken and loud parties are fun in the moment, at times inhibited by stimulants that make us feel good. So when the party’s all over you feel empty inside. Sounds like you enjoy these low-key birthdays, John. Many more them good ones to come for you.

      It will be a regular weekday for me next week. It would be nice to do whatever I want but sometimes life calls 😀

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  8. I don’t do anything overly flashy or expensive, but I like celebrating my birthday. It’s a good excuse to meet with your friends (yes, I know, you shouldn’t need excuses to meet them, but we are all very busy and sometimes a long time has passed without us noticing) and more importantly EAT CAKE. I don’t care about presents, haha, but cake is a must.

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    • It is so true people are so busy and sometimes birthdays are the best excuse for a catch up XD I know right. Cake can be more important than presents. There is this quote that goes that the best gift is not something you give but something you share…and cake is something most of us share if we aren’t too greedy 😀

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  9. 🙂 Have a wonderful Birthday Mabel, Mine too is next week.. We share that in common.. And your photos of those delicious morsels to eat so near my lunch time has made me hungry.
    For me the older I get the less I want to celebrate LOL.. But I did go treat myself this week to some new clothes for Summer ( when it arrives ).. 🙂

    I Hope how ever you celebrate your Birthday Mabel you have a wonderful one..
    Happy Birthday to come..
    Lots of LOVE..
    Sue xx ❤ oh and here is just another little cake for you
    🥂🎁🎈🎂🥂

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  10. I loved to celebrate my birthday in the past, but closer I get to my 30s, less I’m eager to do so.
    I recently got very anxious about the whole ‘aging thing’ as I often feel very incomplete and not fulfilled, like I lost my best years being in places I don’t like, doing things I don’t enjoy.
    My birthday is coming in less than a month, and I’m so terrified and upset! 😦

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    • You know what, the aging thing has also gotten to me. The other day I saw I had some white hairs and was thinking maybe I should have done this and that when I was younger 😞😃

      Hope you have a wonderful birthday next month! Maybe Sing will spoil you – it’s nice to be spoilt 😀

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    • You said it so well ‘It is good to make someone feel good’. That in turn makes you feel good and everyone is happy. Very kind of you to celebrate your family’s birthdays.

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  11. Even I am not very particular about celebrating my birthday – in fact my son regularly forgets it and my husband has to remind him. And I have a friend who unfailingly sends a greeting card exactly two days after my birth date. I havent corrected her for it doesnt really matter does it 🙂 My first birthday greeting is always a greeting from my life insurance policy 😀

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  12. I agree with you a lot on this one, and the older I get the less I want to acknowledge that I’m getting old! It does seem to be a thing so many others are into though.

    That said, happy birthday to you?

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  13. Coming from a gigantic family with a lot of siblings, I loved my birthday as a child. It was the one time I felt seen and loved (also the only day I got my way).

    But once I was a teenager, bad things usually happened around my birthday — deaths, disasters, etc.So for the last few years I’ve been trying to not have a birthday and make it an ordinary day. My friends, husband, and family keep trying to make it special, but their plans get derailed, sometimes sadly, sometimes hilariously.

    So now I’m like you, and I just try to ignore it.

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    • It was nice to hear that your birthdays as child were memorable – good memories. Ignoring your birthday can be hard when others around you insist on making it not-invisible. But no harm when you can get good laughs out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this post, as always, full of insights, big and small, and bits of wisdom. This topic resonates with me, as I don’t celebrate my birthdays, it only makes me anxious. So true what you mention about that when you’re supposed to be happy, it only leads up to disappointment and frustration. I don’t entirely get what about birthdays is there to celebrate: the random fact that you happened to be born on a particular day? That’s not much of an achievement to celebrate…

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    • You are very kind, Mara. Thank you. I think you are one of the few people who understand what’s wallowing in their misery feels like. I think people like to celebrate birth, life, existence and presence on a birthday. That said, sometimes that is all hard to celebrate because it’s hard to find meaning in all of that.

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  15. I’ve read through your posts and the comment and I found the differences in opinion very refreshing. I am one of those people who don’t like to be alone on my birthday. Haha! Probably because I don’t want to be reminded that I live far from my family and I tend to succumb to depression. I like treating my closest friends as a way of thanking them for being there for me.

    On the otherhand, I also respect how other people would want to celebrate their birthday quietly. However, I am type to remember birthdays and the greet the people I value the most because I want to let them know that someone is grateful of their existence. 🙂

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    • Haha, maybe people and energy makes you inspired and happy so all the more reason for you to celebrate your birthday with others. It really is very nice of you to treat your closest friends and show your appreciation for them and their existence…and maybe they won’t mind helping you celebrate your birthday 🙂

      So nice of you to stop by and read the post and also the comments 🙂

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  16. I have been thinking about this recently, as it’s my birthday soon. When I was younger I would have birthday parties, but throughout my teens and early 20’s I prefer spending it with close friends or family. I remember people asked me if I had a party for my 21st, and I said I hadn’t. I had a lovely lunch with my family and catched up with a dear friend, but that made me much happier than a party. When it comes to birthdays I think simple is always best and spending it with those close to you.

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    • Your 21st birthday sounded low-key and relaxing. I can’t even remember how I spent my 21st, and don’t think I did. Agree that simple is best and just appreciating what and who you got. Happy Birthday, Katie 🙂

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  17. My late husband used to say that his birthday was a day to thank his mother and father for giving him life.

    Birthdays are especially nice for children–their special day, a day when their friends come to their party to celebrate their birth.
    As an adult, I don’t often have a party for my birthday. One of the nicest things about my birthday is that my daughter always makes a mix-CD for me with favorite songs from the year. She makes extra copies for my other daughters, and for a while we all play the same songs in our cars.

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    • Birthdays are symbolic of life, and for some of us, being able to live life each day is something we love and are thankful for.

      That is so nice of your daughter making you a mix-CD for your birthdays. I think you mentioned this in one of your blogs 🙂

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  18. Interestingly read you POV, but I REALLY like birthdays! Best day of the year. I never work on my birthday and try to make the celebrations last a whole month! Now that I live in Oz the actual does seem to be longer by the time the northern he,I sphere catches up. I don’t advertise it on social media though- just for people who actually know me.

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    • It is good you have such a positive take on your birthday. If you want to make it a good one, why not 😀 Celebrating your birthday you are sharing the fun and helping others have a good time too. You can definitely extend it when you think of the other timezones in the world 😀

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  19. It’s fun to see what subject you will come up with in every one of your posts, Mabel. Birthday celebration – I had been celebrating everyone’s birthday for a long time including mine, but, to tell the truth, even when I was celebrating, I didn’t really have that it’s-a-special-day feeling. It was just a day.
    Now at this age, I celebrate every day. Every day is my birthday. Every day is special. 😉
    Have a great day.

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    • Thank you for the kind words, Helen. Coming up with interesting to topics to write is harder than it is, lol.

      It is just a day. Every day is special. Agree with you on that. We can celebrate any day we like, and eat cake any day we like. You have a great day on your birthday too 🙂

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  20. A beautiful picture of the pancakes, Mabel! 😀

    I don’t usually avoid celebrating my birthday but I don’t pay much attention to it either. I feel as if it is not worth celebrating it at all. What I prefer in lieu of a celebration is the hangouts with friends whose company I enjoy a lot. That is way better than the yearly celebrations.

    It is true that some people avoid celebrations because of the cost involved. For my case, we spent the money on birthday presents itself. Because of the differing schedules and individuals sets of friends, we figured that presents are better than celebrations. 😅

    What you said about birthday greetings – ‘whether someone remembers our birthday or not doesn’t entirely define our relationship with them as a friendship or any kind of relationship is built up over time and countless moments in between’ – rings true. I’m able to remember most people’s birthdays because of Facebook but only a handful by heart.

    I guess it’s the thought that counts?

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    • Like you I also prefer hangouts with friends as opposed to one big celebration. There’s something special about people wanting to be with you and making the time for you 🙂

      Birthday presents do cost money. Usually I don’t catch up with close friends on their birthdays – as you said it’s usually a case of differing schedules. It really is the thought that counts…doesn’t matter if we like our presents or not XD I also can remember people’s birthdays by heart. Sometimes it is just a feeling inside if me – I’d wake up and feel it’s someone’s birthday today or in the coming days 😀

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      • It definitely costs money to buy birthday presents, but if you fall into the arts and craft category, you could easily give a handmade gift to the birthday boy/girl. I’ve done it once – the birthday present consisted of a printed photograph that came with a makeshift frame (made out of glossy paper) and a birthday card. It made the person so touched. With that being said, I don’t mind spending a bit more if it means the items remind me of them and them of me. (in fact, I just did it for one of my good friends – not sure how he’s going to react if he finds out about this, lol.)

        I was once annoyed when friends never reciprocated with birthday presents, but I learned not to take offense with it anymore.

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        • That is such a lovely handmade gift you made for your friend. It must have take nyou some time to make 🙂 Agree with you. Don’t mind spending time on a meaningful gift for someone. It’s not about you like how the world doesn’t revolve around you, but it’s about them too.

          Reciprocating birthday gifts is an interesting topic. I too don’t think too much about it since there is so much more to friendship than just giving someone a gift. But then again…sometimes you can’t help but think lol…

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          • It didn’t take me much time at all. Although a suggestion came that I should knit him a scarf for his upcoming birthday present, I figured that my skills in it aren’t worthy enough for me to present someone a knitted item. I’d rather buy the ready-made item because I know that it’s done to perfection and scouting it is easier than knitting something from scratch.

            I know right – sometimes you wonder whether the person will give you a birthday present for your birthday. *winks*

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            • It is very nice of you to entertain the thought of knitting a present from scratch. It is thoughts like that you know that what you give truly comes from the heart – and the person should feel greatful.

              Presents are always nice…people think of you and it’s human nature to want to belong and be a part of something or someone’s life 🙂

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  21. Happy birthday, dear Mabel. Each person has the right to celebrate this special day exactly as we want to, whether that is having a huge party – yes, it’ll be my 40th so I’ll be having a big gathering this year – or a quiet night at home with a bowl of popcorn. To me the most important thing is not how the day is celebrated but instead how the person feels about themselves – and I hope you know how special you are to so many of us ❤ By the way, the photos in your post have made me so hungry!! Birthday hug coming your way… now 🙂

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    • I am so surprised you will be 40…honestly I thought you were a decade younger. Well you DO look decades younger and that’s always fun for you 😉 How we feel about ourselves and feeling good about ourselves is so important. You are very kind, Christy. I hope you know how special you are to so many of us too, especially with your words and the impact you make with your writing 🙂 Feel free to have a slice of cake. Hugs to you right back 🙂 ❤

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  22. Happy Early Birthday Mabel!!:) My Birthday was at the begin of the month. I really don’t have to avoid celebrating it cause most people forget about it. Even in my family they forget, but it doesn’t bug me cause I am not a attention seeker. It another day for me trying to find my way through life.

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    • Thanks, Michael. You sound very enthusiastic, lol 🙂 Happy belated birthday to you. It did sound like an ordinary day for you and it’s very humbling how you think of your birthday. Thank you for honestly sharing with us about your life here in the blog world – you make me want to live an honest life…and also be much better at photography 😃

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  23. Remember a person’s life is to be celebrated. The celebration occurred just after your mother gave birth to you. Do you have any nieces or nephews yet?

    Let your loved ones do it with you. Not at your funeral. That is my strongest message since I’ve lost a father, a sister also.

    I don’t get hung up if my birthday one year is low key /less presents /no present or whatever. Our family is pretty casual about this. They understand I prefer to give their belated birthday presents when I fly into Ontario to visit. Nor do they expect me to send a parcel for every single birthday for each person annually. That’s costly.
    I enjoy it when my partner does celebrate my birthday. And me for his, also. We will be for this year’s…in Seoul, we deliberately planned our Asia trip that way so he could celebrate milestone year in a foreign country.

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    • Do I have any nieces or nephews…no comment, that is my personal life 😃

      Your family is nice, thinking of you constantly and you of them – and doens’t have to be your birthday to think of someone or someone think of you. Sounds like an exciting trip to Seoul and Asia for you and Jack. Happy and safe travels.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I completely agree with you… I like to keep it simple…
    And If I celebrate it is often a very simple thing.
    Reason 5 resonated with me. There are so many things to worry … and even to celebrate. It is not just about us.
    On a side note, my mom´s birthday is one day after mine, so I often focus on hers, instead 🙂 Very accurate post. I am with you, dear Mabel. Hugs … and happy weekend to you, my friend 🙂 ❤

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    • Simple is best…it helps you appreciate what you’ve got. It is very nice of you to think about your mum around your birthdays. If you two do celebrate simple, then maybe there can be two cakes 🙂 Thank you for stopping by, linda. Hugs and smiles across the miles ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Liebe Mabel komme jetzt endlich man zum Schreiben die Zeit sie rast nur so dahin aus dem sonnigen Kölnwünsche ich dir einen schönen Tag Klaus in Freundschaft

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  26. I don’t celebrate too, but my reasons are different – I feel I haven’t achieved much that I can be proud of myself to be born and utilize the limited resources of this earth (it might should weird). There are too many poor in this world which make me not spend lavishly on something which would just last a few moments. Some ppl think they are creating memories with that, and they do have a point.

    Otherwise, I think there is nothing wrong with celebrating (or not) in the way one feels comfortable.

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  27. Mabel very fascinating to read your thoughts on this. As an extreme extrovert a lot of the potential issues you describe had not even crossed my mind. In future I will definitelymore sensitive and thoughtful to others on the day of their birth. The thought that a birthday may correspond with an unpleasant memory or event really stuck with me. The next time someone says they don’t want to do anything on their birthday I will not be so quick to encourage otherwise.

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    • Extreme extrovert. I think that phrase fits you very well, Sue. I can imagine you going all out to wish someone a very Happy Birthday for the whole world to hear – doing so in very good faith 😀 I think for most part most don’t mind their birthday acknowledged – maybe the simpler the better. But for some, yeah, could be they just want the day to go by quietly. Always appreciate you chiming in, Sue. Love your extroverted personality It is fascinating 🙂

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  28. Interesting as usual, Mabel. I could have guessed your position in this of course. I am not a party person – and certainly not concerning myself. But, as a child it was very important to be remembered on My Day. I was an only child as well. I had my best friends over and my mother was a perfect party/ game leader.

    Today, I would rather forget my birthday, but we have since long established a nice tradition with four of my oldest friends. We go to an exhibition or a theater or a concert – or a hike in a beautiful forest. And before or after, we go somewhere to eat. So – there is no real celebration, we just enjoy being together. We do not know for how long we will be here together – we have already lost some friends over the years. The others pay for themselves and together they pay for the person who is having his or her birthday. This eliminates any competition or other unnecessary thinking…

    Even if you do not like it, Mabel – Happy Birthday!

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  29. Pingback: West Versus East: The Birthday Edition (#219) – When West Dates East

  30. Birthdays, like holidays, are for children. When you are around them for these special days, they really light up. It is magical. Although somewhere in the middle we seem to get cynical, disappointed or scared about what our birthday means and what we should do about it. But there are countless ways to do things that are meaningful to you and I think that’s what counts. At this point in my life, I’m grateful I’m still around, you know what I mean, so it means something in that way.

    Happy birthday Mabel Kwong!

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    • You said it very well, Lani. For children, birthdays can indeed be like holidays, and as we grow older there are many ways to do things that are meaningful to us. Even getting up can be something meaningful to many of us already, and it sounds like it is for you.

      Thanks, Lani. Happy Birthday for you too, bit of a belated one!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I’m with you on this one! 🙂 I don’t like celebrating my birthday. I can understand how you feel about this. I’ve tried to do simple things or nothing. The best part is that I’m not on popular networking sites and people don’t remember. And that’s perfect for me! 🙂 That said, wish you a wonderful year of new experiences to enrich your life! xo

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    • Haha, I like how you said you do nothing and these few birthdays that is what I do. Just not into celebrating and not into all the fuss surrounding that. Even thinking about doing any celebration makes me feel tired lol. I also wish you well for your next year ahead, and more travels for you and Basil 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re uncannily similar in so many ways! 🙂 I feel tired of planning any family event. And the thought of meeting so many people at once is scary! lol. Thank you so much, Mabel. We’re become settlers now and travel is off the cards for the next few months. I wonder if I don’t feel like travelling anymore. 🙂

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        • Having a lot of people around on our birthdays then is the last thing that we want 🙂 Hope you get to rest over the next few months…and I’m sure you’ll feel like traveling again before you know it 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  32. We don’t make a big to-do out of birthdays, no parties or competition, thank you – but we do acknowledge them with a phone call and song, thoughtful gestures, likely a card (handmade or blank inside with our own thoughts and well wishes), and usually a long walk in nature. We might go out for a meal and/or get the other something practical they have wanted but couldn’t justify the expense. Last year I got a new pair of nice Ray Bans because my cheap sunglasses – the only ones I have owned for years b/c I am hard on them – broke when we were away on vacation. Stuff like that.

    For our whole family, celebration is relative to the individual. The greatest gift, to me, is simply to be remembered. ❤

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  33. 🙂 You may not like this, but truly wish you a beautiful and joyous birthday Mabel ~ you deserve it and so much more 🙂 Again, a tremendous post which gives us the insight to ask and reflect on what birthdays signify. I agree they are milestones in many ways, and in a sense well deserved to celebrate as it is the day you were born. The big difference is in defining how one celebrates, and you do this well. We all have different ideas on the perfect birthday, and I think every year it can vary greatly. I’d say the older one gets, the more our personalities mellow, and while birthdays are to be celebrated – it will be celebrated when the timing is right…and for some reason, at certain times, the pressure of celebrating on a specific day can take the fun out of it.

    I like your 7th reason the best, as it is more than a celebration. For me, a birthday has always been a bit more about reflection and it is a process that is drawn out with no set beginning or end. A beautiful part of wondering what life is about and all that is important to you. A quiet time is perfect for this. Wishing you the perfect, peaceful time to reflect on what you’ve done, where you are now, and most ‘excitingly’ where you are going – and of course, enjoying as many pancakes as possible 🙂 Cheers to another glorious year.

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    • Lol as usual these days my birthday is an ordinary day. This year is no exception and there’s comfort in the ordinary. You said it so well, that ‘we all have different ideas on the perfect birthday’. Birthdays are probably the only time when things can be perfect if all goes well. The older we get, the more we definitely mellow but the more we’re okay with what we’ve got and be more realistic about the relationships aorund us.

      Celebration and reflection can go hand in hand…but I reckon we get more out of reflection. Quiet times are always the times to be cherished, to think about what you have, what you want and who are the important ones to you. It is very kind of you to wish me well. Where I’m going…I am particularly interested to see how this pans out in the near future and the years ahead 🙂 Wishing you well, Randy. You always have insightful commentary and it’s always lovely to see you ❤😊

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  34. I agree with your points. I prefer keeping a low profile on my own birthday as I think it’s an unnecessary expenditure. But, I like to celebrate the birthdays of my near and dear ones, to make them feel special… 🙂
    A few years ago, my husband, without informing me, arranged everything from invitation calls to food and surprised me a lot on my birthday. Such things really make a birthday memorable… 🙂

    The pictures made me hungry… 😀 😛

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  35. Interesting post, Mabel. I agree with your list and know that celebrating a birthday is very personal. Something I’m not keen on in my older age is ‘surprise parties’. Yuck. Someone plans a bash for your birthday and when you get there you don’t know half of the people, LOL. Awkward. My son was very self conscious on his birthday, beginning as a toddler. He didn’t care for a crowd and would get anxious. Then as he got older I would tell him to keep it small and he would ask me why while getting carried away, wanting to invite ALL of his friends over. I’d have to remind him that the idea seems good but the reality is, he didn’t care for it when it was under-way.

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    • Celebrating a birthday is indeed personal. Surprise parties can go very right, or very wrong if you are not in a good mood. Agree it can be awkward if you don’t know most of the people at your birthday! You do wonder what they are doing there…

      It sounds your son doesn’t mind celebrating his birthday if he is up for it. Celebrations can be exciting for some of us, and I hope most of his birthdays have been ones to remember 🙂

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  36. I don’t think I’ve had a ‘proper’ birthday party since I was around 20. And the last time I’ve marked a birthday with others (besides my parents) was probably a simple dinner friends insisted on organising when I was 29. Being generally shy and introverted, I don’t really like the attention – oh sure, I might have appreciated the presents when I was a child, but as an adult I feel there’s not as much incentive to celebrate birthdays, at least for myself. Like you, I’ll help celebrate others’ birthdays, just not my own.

    I’m a bit of a mixed bag too – while I don’t like to advertise my birthday, if people know or remember it, that does make me feel a little special (not that many do nowadays). I’m not ashamed of my age either (in my 30s) and I’ve never really ‘forgotten’ a birthday, but I do find as I get older birthdays are regular reminder of all that I don’t (yet?) have that I hoped I might have achieved by now. So for that reason, birthdays, and the time leading up to them, often leaves me feeling a little melancholic. So it seems I would definitely fall into your first reason.

    Regarding your third point, I’m also quite similar – if I *have* to celebrate a birthday of mine, a simple lunch or dinner out is sufficient, no need to splurge on me.

    On point four, for my Liverpudlian cousin, birthdays are bittersweet because it’s the same day that her mother died (I may have mentioned this before). As a way to cope with that this year, since it was the tenth anniversary of her death, she wrote a pictorial biography for her daughter and nieces/nephews. I learned some (good) things about the wider family that I didn’t know before.

    Interesting that in point six you describe a public holiday on your birthday as ‘annoying’. Even if it means more attention on you, for most the day off might be the perfect birthday present to enjoy time off work. Well, I suppose that could be seen as an *obligation* to celebrate your birthday, which wouldn’t be so nice.

    On point seven, I send birthday wishes to friends and family because I make an effort to remember. With automated reminders on social media, I do wonder if that effort is less appreciated nowadays.

    On the quote from Chris, that is something I try to remind myself of as well – to be grateful for all that God has already given me and to remember that I am where I am in life because that’s where he’s put me. Doesn’t mean I can’t work towards where I want to be, but if what I want is contrary to his plans it’s not going to happen.

    And for your own advice, ‘there’s much to be thankful for every other day’, reminds me of Paul’s words to the Romans: ‘One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike… Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord… For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.’ In other words, it can be good to mark one day as more important than another, but in the end every day is special and (for Christians) a day to live for God and each other above ourselves.

    As an aside, one of my many cousins got married in February and his wife, a Mauritian girl, had as her maid of honour a childhood friend who now lives in Paris. I visited her on my recent holiday and as we were discussing the time of her upcoming baby’s birth we discovered that we shared the same birthday, which was a funny coincidence as there’s a chance the baby might have the same birthday too. (Although I’ll grant that the likelihood of finding someone with the same birthday isn’t as low as we might expect.)

    I hope my birthday wishes didn’t come across as creepy. O.O;;

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    • That makes the two of us, being shy and introverted. In a way it’s a bit strange how we celebrate others’ birthday but not ours. It sort of means there’s a part of us that like celebration…celebration that draws the attention away from us and we feel happy when others are happy with attention 🙂

      I think it’s hard to ‘forget’ a birthday. It creeps up on you. In place of what you don’t have is always something that you’ve got. Just like how our job doesn’t define us, our age also doesn’t define us – and if we are motivated enough, we can do what we want to do. As in your cousin’s bittersweet case, it will be hard for her to ever ‘forget’ her birthday – and it will always be remembered for the right reasons.

      No need to splurge is the key thing for me too when it comes to birthday. That said, I do like to be spoilt but it really isn’t in the form of anything lavish. It really is the thought that goes behind it all 😊

      As my birthday was a public holiday when I lived elsewhere, people saw it as a great excuse to party harder. But we always had great times out together so I can’t complain.

      You make an effort to remember people’s birthdays. It is so nice of you and the people you have in your life are lucky to have you. It’s very rare these days to meet people who aren’t into social media and seeking validation through it. You make a good point quoting the word of Paul, that we aren’t ever alone. Most of our lives we’ve had people around us for one reason or another, so at times an occasion that we celebrate – even if it’s our own birthdays – is not a celebration of our self but of others.

      It is very kind of you to send me your well wishes. Thank you so much.

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      • Yes, from just reading the heading I had a feeling that we’d share a lot in common on this. 😉 Like you, I’m happy to celebrate others’ birthdays, both in the sense of doing something for someone else (and that’s not strange at all!) and also because the attention is not on us.

        On the plane one of the many movies I watched was the 2014 Godzilla (I was scraping the barrel by this point). I didn’t find it that bad, actually, but I mention this now because I remember Bryan Cranston’s character at the beginning of the story being so absorbed in his work that he didn’t even realise it was his birthday! This is simply to demonstrate the dedication of his character, of course, and I think in real life most of us are not so forgetful like this. As you say, it creeps up on us, and that week in the lead up to a birthday often leaves me pensive and introspective. Sometimes what we want to do isn’t possible because of circumstances beyond our control – but I suppose for many things they are and for some birthdays can be a motivator in this (insert stereo-types about mid-life crises here).

        How is it being spoilt if it isn’t lavish? 😉 But yes, something nice but not over-the-top is what I find best for me too. It’s why I think I’d feel uncomfortable on luxury cruises and five-star hotels – seems a bit wasteful to me.

        It’s funny isn’t it? Being introverted means (for me, at least) being reluctant to go out for something, whether for my birthday or something else. But in the end those times can often turn out to be great regardless how we might feel at the start.

        I know, I’m a bit unusual for eschewing social media. But there’s always one, isn’t there? As for Paul, I was just reflecting on how for some birthdays are really special occasions and for others, like ourselves, birthdays are ‘just another day’. So it is with ‘sacred’ days – whether there are special days or all are alike, what we Christians do day-to-day is for God.

        As I mentioned I’m pleased that your day had no dramas. 🙂

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        • Our birthdays aren’t something that we share in common 🙂 I do know a couple of other bloggers who share the same birthday as me, as well as some people I randomly met in real life. It seems that we aren’t keen on having a big celebration for our birthdays in May lol.

          2014 Godzilla…yeah, scraping the barrel indeed (and I love that phrase!) 😀 It is true that many circumtsances are beyond our control and really anything can happen on our birthday. If we do happen to forget about our birthday then maybe we have better things to worry about and are focused on the future. Birthdays can indeed be motivators – making us look back at our lives and look ahead to the time we have in front of us, and what we want to achieve.

          Lavish is certainly a form of spoiling and can be very nice 😉 But I cannot agree with you more on five-star accommodation and service, especially when it runs into the thousand of dollars – and it seems many don’t mind splurging this way on their birthday (and maybe some other occasional occasion). I’ve had this kind of travel and accommodation experience before, paid for. Sure the views were nice and everything was nice and soft and great service but my own bed and car at home was way more comfortable, and after a while I forgot about the 5-star experience. The money spent could actually be used for better purposes such as more trips again at some point.

          So true about how as introverts, when we spend time with others it is usually a good time 🙂 Not about how much you catch up with each other, but more about the heart, want and desire to catch up that makes it worthwhile and every bit memorable 🙂

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          • Ha, good point! I’m about half a year later than you. Sounds like you have even more in common with those who have the same birthday as you.

            I dare say I found it much more interesting than the 1998 Godzilla (which I also only saw on a plane many years ago). I think I struggled to stay awake for that one.

            Regarding spoiling selves, I think it’s partly a matter of opportunity cost. Knowing that I’d be content with much less, I think I’d feel uncomfortable in a five-star resort even if someone else paid for it – I’d much rather do something else that I *would* value with the savings, or maybe consider how such resources might be better shared with those in greater need. I don’t think I’ve had the experience of actually trying it, though, as you have. The closest I might have come to it is perhaps on one Air Mauritius flight – since my mother has a friend who works for the airliner, I don’t know the details but she somehow moved us to the business class seats. Being physically small (and especially so as a child back then) I don’t mind economy seating but I admit it did feel nice having the larger business class seat even just the once.

            Takes us a lot to get out of the house, but when we do – when spent with the right people – it’s often a good time. 🙂

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            • Now that you mention it, I do think I have quite a bit in common with those who share the same birthday with me, apart from the fact that we share the same star sign 😛

              I actually didn’t mind 1998 Godzilla that much…but well, I was very young when I first watched it and remember enjoying it. Maybe time for a rewatch.

              You bring up a great point: value, or what we actually value. Like you, I wouldn’t pass up a free upgrade if it was given to me just by sheer luck and in good faith (I’ve had a similar instance to the one you described). If I had a million dollars, could I justify buying myself five-star treatment, even just for a one-off birthday celebration? Would I want to? Maybe I’d be tempted, but ultimately I can’t see why I should when it doesn’t take much for me to feel content. I need to really connect with that high class treatment in order for me to go for it, if you know what I mean… Lol this sounds confusing :/

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              • As always, it’s opportunity cost. Sure, you might have a million dollars to spare, but those thousands you spend on trying luxuries can be better spent elsewhere if you find yourself not enjoying it as much as you might think/want. Don’t worry, I think I understand. We are not normally fussy customers so we have to really *want* the luxurious options before we can appreciate them. 😉

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                • I’m actually quite fussy about most things, lol. I too think there’s much truth in wanting before truly appreciating and feeling happy. That really is something to think about whenever we feel disappointed. One luxury I’ll always be willing to pay for is a gig or concert. Just so happened The Killers were playing this past week, and nice timing and a good show 😃

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                  • Oh well then that’s another thing we have in common: appreciation for good seats/positions at a concert. At least, since I don’t got very often it make sense to me to make it worthwhile. As it happens there was one I wanted to go to in Paris, at the famous Grand Rex. A little pricey in the end, but it was a really nice evening. Glad it was the same for you.

                    Liked by 1 person

  37. Birthdays are a celebration of life. Celebrations don’t have to be on a grand scale for sure, but remember to always be grateful for having been given another year of life. ❤

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  38. I dislike my birthday very much! Of course, as a kid, I would get excited thinking it as “my special day” to do whatever I want. That gradually evolved into awkwardness over not really knowing “how” to celebrate or feeling pressure to celebrate in ways I felt I might be expected to. Like, the sweet sixteen thing. I cringed internally when my sixteenth birthday came up because I was biologically turning sixteen but somehow mentally still felt like thirteen years old. I didn’t have a party because I had almost no one to invite. Every year I’d get a cake and the obligatory “Happy Birthday” song being sung to me by my parents and brother. A few times some of my cousins or extended family were there to join in. It just got more cringey every year! I teetered between feeling thankful that people wanted to help me celebrate the day I was born and feeling embarrassed with being the center of attention for something I would rather people didn’t acknowledge. I was equally as uncomfortable with opening presents in front of people. I found it hard to react naturally with so many pairs of eyes watching me.

    Then there was always the awkwardness of when people at school would ask when my birthday was. Once, I got asked that question several days after my birthday just passed. And people were like, “How come you didn’t say anything?” Or, they would give me the “Happy Belated B-Day” comment. I don’t even like it when people leave me messages on Facebook wishing me a happy birthday.

    I used to think if I had certain things in my life, then I wouldn’t hate my birthday so much. The main thing I feel guilty about on my birthday is if people spend money to buy me things. I am nowhere near financially independent, so it makes me feel bad when other people use their hard earned cash to splurge on an expensive gift for me. I also don’t like getting older, particularly because I feel my biological age doesn’t match up with my mental age in some aspects. Then I’m also reminded of what society expects people my age to have already done and that makes me feel even worse, lol.

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  39. Love the food pictures here 🙂

    I agree with all the reasons that you wrote. I don’t want to fuss and spending money 😀 – I think I am going to skip celebrating my bday this year. Thinking to go somewhere instead 🙂 Happy Birthday, Mabel!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going somewhere is always a treat 😉 Hope you have many more adventurous travels this year, Indah. You can travel anytime of the year 😀 Thanks for the well wishes 🙂

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  40. Interesting post, Mabel! Personally, I like having a small celebration with family on my birthday and would be sad without it! When younger I never enjoyed giving the home birthday parties with lots of people from school and so it became a tradition for us (the family) to go out to the theatre and dinner afterwards and this is a tradition we still keep today. As for social media, I’ve never made my birthday public so not a problem! Wishing you a happy day every day! xx

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