So today another co-worker and I took my co-worker friend to lunch for her birthday - which is tomorrow. Keep in mind, that this is a BIG birthday...one that she is approaching with trepidation. During this lunch my friend uttered something that broke my heart.
I realize that all families are different and, as such, have different customs/practices when it comes to celebrations. I know that growing up, despite my family's dysfunction, we CELEBRATED everything...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, etc. I know that in her family things are a bit more...muted. And I can respect that; to a degree.
In my little family, I have made sure that all the events are CELEBRATED - even though I generally shy away from a large production for my birthday; even a BIG one. But I do want it acknowledged. I think that's all any of us want; acknowledgment.
After being asked what her family had planned for her birthday she responded with, "Nothing really. My daughter's birthday is on Friday. My birthday really hasn't been acknowledged for the past 18 years."
As sad as that was; that wasn't what broke my heart.
The part that killed me? We ordered a dessert for her and as she was divvying it up to share, she casually tossed out that she couldn't remember the last time she had a birthday cake. And then she said, "Last year, I bought some cupcakes for my birthday and when I brought them home, my son asked what they were for..."
Her own son didn't even realize it was her birthday!
And that is when my heart broke. Not only did he not know but no one in her family thought to acknowledge the day with even so much as a card, not to mention a cake. In my mind, there is ALWAYS cake for a birthday.
My son - which was once the same age as her son - always knew when my birthday was; and his father's and his sister's and his grandmother's birthdays were - because he learned from a young age that these were IMPORTANT dates.
As it happens, she was one of two to make sure that my big day was acknowledged at work - though the majority of the company was blissfully unaware (fine by me; the important people to me knew - and that was plenty). My guys, of course, lavished me with attention and love - and, since they know me so well, kept it fairly low-key.
I, of course, have plans in place to make sure that she feels loved and acknowledged tomorrow - so much so that she will get a cake, of sorts, tomorrow. But it pains me that her family isn't doing the same.
No, as a family you don't need to CELEBRATE every occasion; but you should realize that the acknowledgment of the occasion IS necessary and needed - even if the recipient claims "it's no big deal."
Yes it is. Its always a big deal. Even if it is celebrated quietly; it's still a big deal.