The Disappointment Of Birthdays

Birthdays. Let’s face it chaps they are so disappointing, unless you happen to be the Queen turning 90 and get to dress up in a Kermit the frog outfit.

Birthdays never used to be like this when we were kids, did they? We were told ‘I want does not get’ but actually we generally got exactly what we wanted. A space hopper, a remote car, a shiny red chopper bike, a record player. Just supposing you ask for what you really want now. A Ferrari please if that’s okay.

At 50 this is what we women get for our birthday: tubs of body cream from everybody. They aren’t even posh Molten Brown or Soap and Glory tubs they’re cheap and nasty, probably purchased from Superdrug or even a charity shop with a ghastly scents such as tea rose and green tea. Friends recycle their presents among their friends. Does that sound familiar? Yes it does happen. You may laugh. You may sneer. I do it myself. I’ve got a bottom drawer devoted to the recycling of rubbish body creams labeled up so that I remember not to give it back to the friend that gave it to me in the first place. It’s a well organised system I’ve got going.

Birthdays aren’t so bad when you’re single because you just drown your sorrows in alcohol with a group of friends even if they have disappointed you with their body creams. I see them on Facebook, pictures of groups of giggly women in hot tubs holding glasses of bubbly. I’m jealous. Nobody ever invited be to one of these occasions.

I think Jehovah’s Witness have got the right idea. Ban birthdays. Apart from God’s son who, incidentally doesn’t have the correct date for his birthday anyway. I reckon the Jehovah’s people had a meeting a very long time ago well before the high street even existed in the days when we made shoddy hand made presents for each other. Any one ever made a present for anyone? A lavendar pillow perhaps or a painted pebble? So they said look here guys, birthdays are so disappointing. All these hand made presents breaking all over the place. So they went all virtuous and said let’s just ban them apart from Jesus’ birthday, we’ll let the flock put green trees up in their front rooms to celebrate and we’ll tell our people that birthdays displease God.

Birthdays aren’t so bad when you have kids either, because money doesn’t come into it when you’re talking about a small offering from your little cherub. Maybe a drawing of you to put on the fridge, how cute, looking very fat and you’re just grateful that your 18 year old son has remembered even though he’s put together a horrible little card with a sticker of a lawnmower on the front using the contents of your craft box and nicked a few flowers from the cemetery down the road you just think ‘ah bless him he chose them specially for me from the cemetery. How thoughtful.’

But make no mistake birthdays are mega disappointments when you’re in a relationship. Several years ago I woke up with my then partner. We were at a work conference, a battery convention in Austria. He said what day is it? I said Thursday. He said what date is it? I said the 21st. He said isn’t that your birthday? I didn’t have time to get a card. How can anyone not have the time to buy a card? I presume they have time to buy milk when it runs out or time for a shower before they go to work! That evening we went out to dinner, to celebrate, to celebrate with an old man, one of the world’s leading experts in lead acid batteries because he’d recently obtained an award in his field of expertise and we toasted him with champagne.

As adults we have to lay a trail of hints, like a Hanzel and Gretel bread trail in our wake and hope that the hints get picked up along the way.You would imagine your partner would know the sorts of things you like but they get it wrong so way of the Richter Scale and nobody seems to surprise each other any more. My ex boyfriend though was brilliant with his presents. He would take note over the year of the sorts of things I looked at in shops… chicken breasts, raw mackerel, toe nail clippers and hey presto to my delight I’d open presents I actually wanted! Actually he selected the other things I looked at… sparkly necklaces, perfumes and so on.

So I ask you this today why not ditch the farce of birthdays and just buy those you love a random present at any time of the year when you see something they would like. It’s so much more special.

My novels are full of disappointments too, some funny, some tragic.
There are the links to them: