What Birthdays Are About


Photo credit: Kalexanderson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Maybe you’ve already seen the viral video going around of a teacher moved to tears by his students when they throw him a surprise birthday party.

Not everyone loves a surprise, but this feel-good story is proof of the value of birthdays.

English teacher Kyle Simpler enjoys a cake (featuring his favorite cat Felix) and the students have decorated his Burleson High School classroom. Considering the 59-year-old says he’s typically private and his family doesn’t make a big deal of birthdays, the Inside Edition, HuffingtonPost, and 30,000 video views of his arrival in his classroom are certainly a change. Yet, I’d argue, it’s being made to feel special that has the true impact.

I live with a high school teacher. I can bet he too would be thrilled if his students showed him some birthday love. Not only because it’s his birthday, but because it shows appreciation of the hard work he does.

There are other examples online of students surprising their teachers on their birthdays. What I love about these videos is the joy on the birthday celebrant’s face, but also the enthusiasm the students feel for being part of this special day.

We enjoy being part of someone’s birthday. Even over the Internet. Seriously, google searching “students surprise teacher birthday” netted four pages of the same Texas schoolteacher story retold by news outlets around the world. Why? Because it makes us smile, wherever we are, whether we know the person or not, to see someone enjoying a birthday and feeling the love.

That, my loyal readers, is the true value of birthdays! Think I’m weird to love birthdays this much? Look again at the love shared on these special days and you’ll have better insight into why I am such a big birthday fan.


Birthdays are for sharing the love

A loyal reader recently asked me to weigh in on an article she’d seen about refusing to have a birthday for a one-year-old. Surprisingly, I actually agree with many of the points Jennifer Canavan makes on scarymommy.com (paraphrased with some of my own editorializing below):

  • The baby is not old enough to remember
  • Pinterest has made party hosting a nightmare for the not-so-crafty Mom
  • It’s exhausting to host a party and do thank you’s when you feel lucky enough to shower.

This reminded me of my son’s Charlie Brown first birthday party. It was only a play date, really, but I was disappointed when no one was actually able to join us (illness and hospital visits intervened). So, I took the monkey cupcakes I’d made to daycare the next day and felt better about him celebrating with his buddies there.

Certainly, if a parent doesn’t have the time, energy, or money to fete a first year birthday, they shouldn’t feel guilty. The main thing is that a birthday is a day to celebrate our loved ones and share that love. So, party or not, as long as the birthdayee (yep, that’s a new word for you to use #tweetit) feels the love — again, at any age — the party is just icing on the cake. Or, borrowing another suggestion from the same loyal, lovely reader, extra yum of another sweet treat for those (weird) kids who don’t like cake.

Birthday alone

Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND