Tuesday, April 01, 2008

On the day that you were born, though I love you, I may forget you

A day late for another birthday. This time it is my brother. I have always been bad about birthdays but have never missed his, even by a day. He is really good about mine as well. Maybe we feel a special responsibility to one another as the only ones left from our primary childhood home. Whatever the reason, the deck has been internally stacked towards remembering my brother. Until this week.

I have been trying to prepare for these lapses, having gotten worse every year. A few winters ago, at a gathering of Nicolas' family to celebrate his mother, I stood up in front of the many nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters and proposed the idea of not necessarily recognizing every birthday. Rather, I proposed, we could just get a card or a present for one another when the mood hit us. I loved the honesty and spontaneity of this. I was very enthusiastic as I described the excitement one would have over the unexpected wrapped surprise in the mailbox, seven months before the day one was born! I painted a scenario where we could take one another to dinner or even throw one another a party, just because of really liking one another. Not all the time, no obligation...

I was met with unflinching, stone cold silence. No one was impressed. The first reaction came from Stacy. She is a birthday genius. Stacy keeps everyone's dates in her head(doesn't even need a calendar) and is always on time with a card, all while working at a full time job in NY. Now, with a new home in NJ and a baby to boot, she still has a perfect record. Her response was, "Are you a card person? Or do you prefer e-mail, a phone call...? Did you like birthdays growing up?"

The thing is, I love acknowledging birthdays, with homemade cards and cake, and would do so for everyone, if I only hadn't developed a block about being on time. I grow tired too easily and am terribly forgetful.

I have a birthday calendar on the wall, a silly one by Boynton, with cartoon animals pretending to be human. I have had it there, warping in the humidity, since Gillen was young enough to like Boynton, eight years ago. It is open to March and has been for a long time. It could serve me well (I wrote in all the significant family and friend birthdays and some added their own) if I would only take the time to go to that dark corner of the kitchen and look at the ugly thing.

Tomorrow, I will make myself a new one, right after sending my godson a gift. His birthday is on the sixth. I'm on time!

7 comments:

Alecto said...

We (my family of origin) don't care much at all about birthday timing. We would have applauded you with gusto and then told you about this thing we call Tuna Fish Day where somebody just might get a present out of nowhere for no good reason.

Tamar Orvell said...

It's OK not to remember birthdays. I don't either. And it hardly means I don't care tons about the person whose b-day I forgot. I can't tell you any of my best friends' birthdays. It just ain't my thang;-) SO cool it. You are so much, why be perfect? Too boring and unimportant. My two shekels (Israeli currency).

Em said...

I love the idea of spreading out birthdays. I tend to get birthday'd out. What is better than letting people know you're happy they were born than celebrating on a normal day. Kudos!

Danielle said...

I am notoriously rotten about remembering birthdays, and eventually all my friends have finally given up. Thank god!

Oh, and while I'm in confessional mode, I'm also a terrible tooth fairy.

Hey, we've all gotta have our faults, right? (Ummmm, like sending my New Year's cards out 4 months late, for instance? Thanks for the addy!)

Madeline said...

So good to hear I am not alone. Alecto, I love "Tuna Fish Day", so much.

Danielle, I to have had terrible tooth fairy slip-ups and do-overs and even notes form the fairy, apologizing. ;)

Angie said...

I love your idea of a gift for anytime. As the world's worst rememberer of birthdays - that would suit me well. Unfortunately, my husband's family are obnoxious in how well they remember every holiday on the calendar! We get cards from them for every little holiday imaginable. They had no idea how woefully ill-equipped I would be in this family tradition.

Sara said...

I'm so bad that I signed up for this birthday reminder service, and I still don't get on the ball usually until the day before someone's birthday and I'm terrible at getting things in the mail on time. It does occasionally help with calling up friends around their birthdays though. http://www.birthdayalarm.com/