Birthdays come but once a year,
So we send this message clear;
Happy birthday, “name” dear,
Happy birthday till next year.
This is the second out of three choruses that my family sings to celebrate a beloved birthday recipient. The first chorus (“Happy Birthday to You”) is probably the most recognized song on the planet, but to a visiting guest, the second and third choruses always catch them by surprise.
To me, hearing for the run-on of the birthday song for the first time was kind of like hearing “debtors” as opposed to “trespasses” and the clause, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever,” in the Lord’s Prayer. I just hadn’t heard it before, but it was sure catchy, and gave the celebrant a little more time to be serenaded before blowing out their candles.
What is the significance of birthdays anyway?
Mostly, we celebrate people, because we’re thankful they were born; but we also celebrate them, because they’re still alive.
I recently read a sweet story of Lessie Brown, a woman in Ohio who just turned 114. She had two of her children (89 and 90 years old) and some of her 50 descendants present to celebrate her birthday. Born in 1904, she has two great-, great-, great-grandchildren, and is the oldest known person living in the United States. With every day being a gift to the people who love her, they sang her a heartfelt birthday wish.
But some people don’t want to celebrate their own birthdays anymore. So when do we shift from this special day being the most significant, to insignificant?
When a child turns one, it is usually marked by the first and only time they get to do whatever they want to an entire cake. If you’ve ever seen a one-year-old dive into a cake, they are seemingly happy for about the first minute. But then this tactile experience turns into frustration, and they can’t wait to get the icing off of their hands, face and out of their hair.
For many of us, life after 40 becomes a wish that we were 39 again. The older we get, reality starts to settle in on how old we actually are, and birthdays become less significant. It’s usually at the 40th birthday parties where “over the hill” signs and cards begin to appear. But after a certain age, we begin to recognize again that these milestones are worth marking.
Another reason for the shift to insignificance is because as people get to their middle years, they are less focused on themselves, and more focused on celebrating their children and their own parents.
But birthdays are significant, and children always know it. It seems that we’re in a time where kids celebrate their birthday week, and oftentimes the entire month. They know they’re special, and usually what comes with that specialness is gifts and a party.
Around here, the Learning Express has been a lifesaver for moms grabbing that last-minute gift for a party. They have just about every toy you could imagine for a child recipient.
The Little Creperie is another shop that takes advantage of offering help with birthday parties. Their behind-the-scenes “make your own crepe” birthday party is a big hit with children; and it’s nice to keep it local.
We recently sang the “Happy Birthday” song and the two accompanying choruses to my wife’s mom celebrating one of those milestone years. And if you are a guest or the one we’re celebrating, we’ll take a little longer to sing a third chorus to you.
Many more birthdays to you,
Many more birthdays to you;
Many more birthdays to “name;”
Many more birthdays to you!