Do birthday cards get meaner as we get older or do we get meaner because we get old?
It’s a strange phenomenon.
I got a card last week that said: “I’ve decided to do something special for your birthday, but it doesn’t include you.”
That’s not funny.
That’s sad. It made me want a pity party, not a birthday party.
So When Does It Turn?
When does it go from “Happy Fourth Birthday, Superstar!” to “Happy You’re Still Around Period!”?
However ill-conceived, it makes me think there’s a market for some transitional teenage greeting cards that read: “Happy Birthday, Snot-Nose!” and “Remember when you used to listen to Mom and Dad? We don’t either; Good Luck and Happy Birthday.”
But I don’t have the heart.
Kids don’t need that kind of help transitioning into the realities of adulthood.
Climbing the proverbial hill is hard enough, but being told that you’re over it?
It’s actually not so bad.
It might even be better on this side.
Mean birthday cards are part of human nature, part of our build-’em-up-tear-’em-down culture.
Making fun of and criticizing others can make us feel better about who we think we are.
It keeps us in denial and distracts us from doing the work we need to do individually, to make ourselves better.
But maybe mean birthday cards are just a funny way of dealing better with our own mortality, a reminder not to take life too seriously and to laugh at ourselves a little bit more than we do.
At least once a year.
Either way, I’m just grateful to be remembered.
So here’s to another birthday.
To still being able to cartwheel my way across the backyard and to still being able to beat my older brother in a headstand race.
Here’s to stepping outside the reality of time and remembering who we wished to be when birthdays couldn’t come fast enough and they never lasted long enough.
We may grow old to the world outside of ourselves, but we will always be young at heart to those who know our hearts the best and that is the best-wished-birthday-wish we can ever hope to have.
To living outside the touch of time and remembering each other for who we’ve always been.
Until next week,
Happy Birthday, ya ol’ Fart.