When I was a little girl in grade school, one of my best girlfriends was named Denise S. We just hit it off and had a lot of fun together. She had beautiful, neat handwriting and she always counseled me to try to write neatly because my test answers would never fit onto those little lines due to my poor penmanship. Anyway, Denise was a good friend of mine, plus her birthday and mine were only two days apart. Somehow, when you almost share a birthday with someone it is like an extra little bond.
Funny thing about birthdays, they happen on whatever day the date falls on, whether you like it or not. There are people born on February 29th, December 25th, July 4th, September 11th, and Decembeer 7th. In some instances – such as Christmas babies – the person gets a little screwed in the birthday celebration because there are “Christmas/Birthday” gifts. These can be gifts a little more extravagant than a gift for a birthday or Christmas. I have gotten a couple gifts like that since my birthday is in December, but they were really nice gifts, thanks to understanding family members. When it’s one crummy gift, though, and called a Christmas/Birthday present, then it’s just that the giver was lazy. Meh.
Anyway, that is not what I’m thinking about today. When I was a girl, we talked about December 7th being Pearl Harbor day. I don’t think I need to go into the history of Pearl Harbor, but if someone reading this doesn’t know the significance of that name, here is a link to a Wiki on it. Needless to say, it is a day for reflection and memorial, appreciation for those who sacrificed all and those who survived hell.
December 7th is also my friend Denise’s birthday and I remember a specific conversation we had about the fact that her birthday fell on Pearl Harbor day. Her parents always made sure to celebrate her birthday just as any normal kid would. It wasn’t her fault she was born on such a day, so why punish her. It was then that I realized that birthdays fall on every day of the year, whether you like it or not. My own daughter was born the day before Valentine’s Day. I will always celebrate her birthday AND celebrate Valentine’s Day, but never one combined with the other.
I read a particularly sad Dear Abby column recently about a family that did not celebrate their daughter’s birthday because it fell on September 11th. They felt it was disrespectful to our national tragedy just 10 short years ago. There was no consideration that their daughter might have felt slighted because all her brothers and sisters had normal birthday celebrations. There was not even a half birthday or early/late birthday celebration. They just ignored this girl’s birthday completely. I find that disrespectful to the girl and pathetic on the part of the parents. It wasn’t her fault, after all.
If your birthday is today, then I wish you happy birthday. I am capable of separately having a moment of reflection for one of our greatest losses in our national history. As I learned so early in life from my friend Denise, the two are not intertwined. Happy birthday, my old friend, wherever you are!