The Year of No Birthdays

The above was widely shared across social media. But in doing so, it created a lightning rod around an issue that we are ALL sharing in and suffering through during the year of COVID. This year SUCKS for birthdays.

If you’ve had a birthday, you know what I mean. If you are waiting to have a birthday, you might be getting ready for the same experience. It is impossible to celebrate, to memorialize, to congratulate or even to observe someone on their birthday, unless they are in your pandemic pod. And I say this having brought folding chairs to a parking lot on a recent evening in order to celebrate a birthday. I have attempted to find meaningful plans to do SOMETHING special for numerous birthdays and anniversaries. But it turns out that this period is just the antidote to fun.

But there’s a lesson in here, I believe. And it has to do with the truism that it is always much better to give than to receive. What this period has showcased is that not being able to celebrate leaves a sense of emptiness not in how I experience joy or affirmation, but rather in how it has cut off a whole vocabulary of how I love my family and friends. It has clarified for me what these little things — these crucial but mundane events — mean, and how much more important they are as an opportunity to communicate what matters than I ever realized.