By Segun Mcmedal
I make it bold to say that the most important day in a person’s life is his or her birthday! It is an important day when one’s personal flight touches down, marking the beginning of your journey on earth. However, some people choose not to celebrate their special day. Worse still, some do not even commit their birth dates to memory.
I used to belong in the former category! I never celebrated a birthday, not because of lack; I just didn’t care until I turned 40 years old. I can’t even claim that I set out intentionally to mark it. My wife organised a surprise parlour party in connivance with my friends.
My plan for my two-score birthday was very simple; to take a break from the hustle and grind, get some sleep, and reflect afterwards. I switched off my Nokia so no one could reach me. But my wife had a different plan, unbeknownst to me. She came to rouse me around 4 p.m. and pleaded that I should take my bath before coming to eat something in the dining room. You can’t imagine my shock when my friends started singing, “Happy birthday to you!” upon sighting me. It was a successful coup, and it tickled me a great deal. I still remember it fondly. I will be eternally grateful for her kindness and generosity.
Weddings are memorable occasions; one can hardly forget the joy he or she felt when they tied the nuptial knot. People will shower new couples with love and gifts. Yoruba weddings are arguably the most fun, with colourful Aso Ebi accompanied by lots to eat, drink, dance, and takeaway. However, only a few people remember their wedding anniversary the following year. It is not that people don’t care; the problem is that they need to be prompted. Couples can even decide to go their separate ways!
When you buy a property, a car, or even acquire a degree or promotion, people won’t wish you a happy anniversary the following year. It is a one-time activity, not like recurring birthdays. However, LinkedIn is the only social media app I know that remembers work anniversaries.
Some families mark the memorials of their loved ones on different scales. It is a cultural or status thing for Africans to celebrate the memorials of great personalities, sometimes with fanfare. However, it is not the same thing as marking a birthday because the celebrant is not alive to witness it.
During baby christenings and early birthdays, one is too young to comprehend what is going on. However, pictures and videos will convey the message much later.
It is important to commemorate and celebrate your momentous day as you grow in strength and stature. Your birthday is a reminder that you are alive, to show gratitude to the giver of life for His benevolence, and to enjoy yourself more than on a usual day. Birthdays bring you joy because people shower you with attention, love, fun, and gifts.
Men and women are different in the ways they celebrate their birthdays. A woman usually celebrates the entire week leading up to her birthday. She considers what to shop for, where to go, what hairstyle and outfit to wear, and which friend to celebrate with. But men usually do the opposite. A man wants to enjoy it with his friends without pomp.
Nowadays, the easiest way to mark a birthday is to go for photoshoots. It’s no wonder the photography business is booming. Just splash the pictures on your social media timelines during your day. People and well-wishers often celebrate birthdays on WhatsApp statuses. However, phone calls are the best way to celebrate with people; nothing beats hearing people’s best wishes; it is therapeutic.
I like marking my birthdays in small ways; I don’t like crowded things. These days, when people call or send me texts to wish me a happy birthday, I get emotional and teary-eyed with happiness. I often hear from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. In return for their kindness, I appreciate and show them gratitude for their affection and best wishes.
Facebook is one of the social media apps that sends birthday notifications if the user enables it; I like the medium for that. I am used to checking the app every morning, whenever I can, to know whose birthday is next. Outlook also sends birthday notifications the night before your contact’s birthday.
It is important to celebrate life. A birthday signifies a beginning and the joy of life. They are a clever way to make happy memories, reflect, and give us optimism for the future.
If it’s your birthday today, happy birthday!
Segun McMedal is a public relations practitioner living in Lagos, Nigeria.