Monday, June 21, 2004

And (hopefully not) many more ...

This should prove to be my last blog article about birthdays for a while. The topic is tired, and so am I. However, I wanted to hold on to one last tangent before I leave.

Yesterday, I pondered the thought of reversing the traditional birthday emphasis. Instead of a person being celebrated on the day of his or her birth, that perhaps it would make more sense to celebrate the efforts of the parents of that person.

That’s kind of an interesting thought the more I think about it. The argument against this would be on two fronts: Mothers and fathers would be honored sporadically all year long, and some parents would need to be honored more times than others in one year.

The more cynical among us will point out that moving Mother’s Day and Father’s Day from their official observance might cause Hallmark to lose a hefty chunk of change (perhaps a third of their annual revenues, and the resulting dip in the economy would be disastrous.

Personally, I think decentralizing the holiday would save us from the deluge of tacky cards we have to wade through each year. (Here’s more about the more complete history of Mothers Day, if you’re interested). And it would also eliminate 90% of the birthday cards purchased by friends and extended family.

But irrespective of the economics of our holiday traditions, I think that perhaps mothers and fathers SHOULD be honored in different ways and at unofficial times. My mother bore and raised four male children. That experience and the perseverance it must have taken is surely different than that of a parent who raised a single daughter, or even more children than my parents. So maybe the celebrations should be nonstandard expressions, driven by the sentiments of children in recognition of their birth, which signified the beginning of the “mothering” experience. And the same goes for fathers.

So maybe birthdays should be about celebrating the contributions of the parents who were actually present for the birth. Just a thought, hopefully to be fleshed out sometime in the future.


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