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Why Are Birthdays Special?

Updated on November 13, 2013

Here is a slice of my Birthday Cake this year


Why Are Birthdays Special?

What is it about a birthday? Why are birthdays so special? Speaking for myself, every day that I awake and can get out of bed – unaided – is special. After all, I am older than soil (which came before dirt).

Do birthdays become more special as we age? Or are we just more grateful to be around to celebrate them? As I pondered these questions, I began to think about a few special birthday celebrations I enjoyed as a child. Come take a trip down Memory Lane (a very ancient pathway) with me.

My First Birthday

My very first special birthday was – can you guess? – the day I was born. I don’t remember too many details. Just that I was thrust out of a comfortable, warm, dark, somewhat damp but very private environment into a too bright, harsh, unfamiliar world where large strange faces often loomed over my crib making weird noises (I think it was called cooing).

My Third Birthday

Although I do not remember specific details about each year's birthday, I do remember the birthday party my mother and father gave me for my third birthday. For one thing, I was no longer the baby. A new sibling, my 5-month old sister, now joined the party. And I was scared to death by the arrival of a garishly decorated guest – the clown my parents had hired to provide amusement. All the guests were amused except me.

This is the Caterpillar Cake for my birthday next year!


My Eighth Birthday

My 8th birthday was very special, too. We were living in a small town in Illinois, Kankakee by name, which was also special because an unloved state institution was located there.

I was taking dancing lessons by then – loved the tap and acrobat, the ballet not so much. And that year on my birthday, my School of Dance was presenting a recital. Not for parents as you might expect, but for the residents of this immense cluster of buildings located on the fringe of the town.

There were ten of us who would perform – eight girls and two boys – and we were excited beyond description. A school bus was pressed into service and delivered us to our venue.

We were not told about the nature of our audience but noticed they were all dressed in very casual clothing. Men were sitting on one side of the hall; women on the other. When we all entered the large auditorium in a file, our audience – all 200 of them – started clapping and whistling like mad. And we had not even performed yet. It went to our heads.

Canvas Gym Shoes were introduced the year I was born.

Gym shoes with canvas uppers and rubber soles for men, women and children in all sizes - 75 to 90 cents
Gym shoes with canvas uppers and rubber soles for men, women and children in all sizes - 75 to 90 cents | Source

You can understand that it was the performance of our young lives. We danced our little hearts out to please that accommodating audience. And they continued to clap and yell and whistle throughout our hour-long dance recital.

Every one of us determined we would make dancing our career after being exposed to that super-appreciative audience.

Epilogue: That night we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. I explained to my folks that the audience that day had been so remarkable that I intended to become a professional dancer.

I overheard my mother whisper to my father, “Your daughter danced at the state insane asylum today.” When I finally learned what that meant, I changed my career aspirations.

I have enjoyed many, many, many significant birthday celebrations since then. But that 8th birthday recital was surely the pinnacle of my dancing career. I relive it every time I watch the TV show, 'Dancing with the Stars.' Just wanted to share it with you on the eve of my birthday this year. Can you guess how old I am? I’ll give you a hint; here are a few of the significant cultural events that occurred the year I was born:


Year of my Birth
First Mickey Mouse cartoon
'Steamboat Willie' produced by Walt Disney
The book, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'
Banned for being too explicit in U.S. and U.K.
First yo-yo factory opened
Located in Santa Barbara, California
Penicillin was discoverd
By Alexander Fleming
Packaged sliced bread first sold
Cost - 9 cents per package
Herbert Hoover became President
Defeated Al Smith

Go to 2.25 (where time is shown) to see unbelievable acrobatics

I used to do all those acrobatic stunts, too (laughing like crazy).

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved.

Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Learn to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview confidently, and negotiate salary.


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