A DAY by any other name may NOT be as sweet….as a BIRTHDAY!


As we celebrate the greatest week of the year (my birthday week!), I remember the fuss and commotion my mom created about birthdays growing up.  We would wake up to a breakfast of champions (usually cake) and a house decorated with birthday banners & balloons, cards taped to the door frames, and the grand shrine of presents laid out to be seen in one swooping glance.  It was glorious!


So, maybe, the presents consisted of socks and underwear, and the banners are still being reused every year for every family member to this day.  Those are just details.  My mom had a special way of making birthdays extraordinary and beautiful and best of all: ALL yours!  Over the years, our family has created this shared understanding of what it means to celebrate birthdays.  We literally jump & sing and wait on the birthday-person hand and foot! 


This is particularly difficult since my mom’s birthday is on Christmas.  Over the years, my sister and I have carefully mastered the art of having distinctly different birthday and Christmas celebrations all on the day of December 25th.  We sing happy birthday in a different room than the Christmas tree, we put up the official birthday banners, and we would never dare wrap birthday presents – socks and underwear – in Christmas wrapping.  That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? 


Apparently, not.  Our little family of three – mind you, all adult, intelligent women – experienced a minor ‘family crisis’ a few years ago when my mom’s boyfriend (now fiancé) celebrated his first Christmas/Birthday party with us.  He was a bit embarrassed by the singing, caught off guard by the separate birthday celebration, and he did not distinguish the birthday present from the Christmas present via different wrapping paper!!!  We were shocked!  This may be funny to some and odd to others, but we honestly did not know how he could be so heartless!!  Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it took us a long time to understand that birthdays meant something different to him.  Up to that point, he did not share our family’s expectations about what it means to celebrate birthdays.  His family did it a different way.  Imagine that.  Birthdays are just one example of how everyone has unique experiences and expectations. 


Relationships take time, because we have to create some shared meaning and understanding (and hopefully enjoyment!) to grow strong together.  Just as I KNOW my mom and I KNOW my birthday banners are going to be hung around her house in 24 hours, it is imperative that individuals in relationships take time throughout their relationship to continue to “get to know” their partner to create shared understanding. 


Mallory Lucier, M.S.

Graduate Student Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative


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3 Responses to “A DAY by any other name may NOT be as sweet….as a BIRTHDAY!”

  1. Erin Says:

    GREAT STORY! I love your enthusiasm that you write with. And it is true, it takes time to get to know someone. I have been with Ray for 7.5 years and I asked him just a few months ago what his favorite food was because I did not know.

  2. Topsoil Says:

    With all the doggone snow we have gotten as of late I am stuck indoors, fortunately there is the internet, thanks for giving me something to do. 🙂

  3. Mulch Wilmington Says:

    Good read … headline catchy … good points, some of which I have learned along the way as well (humility, grace, layoff the controversial stuff). Will share with my colleagues at work as we begin blogging from a corporate perspective. Thanks!

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