Birthdays Might Not Be Stupid : An Open Letter to Patrick O’Connor

I found an old friend of mine. Isn’t that nice? I was so relieved to see him again. He was hiding on the internet, talking smack about birthdays and early disney movies. What a sassy minx.


So here is the premise of this video, as synopsized by myself :

1. Birthdays are stupid. (Note : I am actually not offended by that statement. In the words of one Michael J. Bluth, “I am okay with that.”)
2. Birthdays are stupid because we didn’t do anything to get one. They are not a celebration of one’s hard work or accomplishments, but as a “passage of time”, which “would happen anyways.” (True).
3. Birthdays set us up to a sense of entitlement, participation awards are crap, Oprah is insipid, and cake entitlement IS REAL.
4. The time that a person should get a gift is limited to two days a year.
5. We should celebrate things that happen because of a person’s hard work and accomplishments.
6. Early disney movies send a terrible message.

Okay, so here’s a couple of thoughts. I’m just gonna put it out there, and if you don’t like it, you can send it back.

First of all, it’s true that personally I did nothing to make my birthday happen, it’s not true that no work happened. My mother went to the effort of pushing me out of her vagina. Somebody put in a lot of hard work, it just wasn’t me. So thanks, Mom, for being a team player. So maybe on my birthday from now on, I should celebrate my Mom’s…hard…work? Oh sure, you say, but that’s what Mother’s Day is for. I don’t disagree. I’m just saying that it’s not true that birthdays aren’t celebrating any hard work.

Secondly, let’s talk about Disney movies for a second. While it’s true that early Disney movies did a lot to perpetuate unhealthy messages for young girls, they weren’t going off their own material – I feel the people we should really blame here are the Grimms brothers. Also, I feel that later on in Disney life they cleaned up their act. The whole message of the Princess and the Frog was that the main girl character was wholly convinced that hard work and dedication was the only acceptable way to earn your dream. Also, in the case of the most recent Disney movie, Frozen, I’m going to use the words of one Amy Gilson :

There has never been a moment in Disney history when the princess (queen in this case) basically throws up the double birds screaming screw all y’all and does her own thing and not with romantic urges but for her own well being.” 


Thirdly, and this is my main consternation, I feel like it’s being implied that we have to earn celebration. And I’m not 100% okay with that.

Let me clarify. I do agree that people should be celebrated for things they work hard to achieve, and not just on their birthdays or on Christmas. I do think we should give people gifts whenever the hell we want. I think awards for participation are dumb. That all being said, I don’t think we should celebrate people solely on what they have done, or achieved, to merit celebration. I think that’s a dangerous path to go down.

Take me, for example. I have done things, in my life, that have merited celebration (or so my mother tells me). I graduated high school. I went on to post-secondary and got a diploma. I got a good job in my field. I am a sort-of musician in the grade eight level of royal conservatory piano. Hooray for me. But imagine, just for a second, that I never did any of those things. It isn’t hard to imagine, because 95% of the time I was very, very close to not doing any of those things. Imagine I was a drop-out, homeless, and considered a drain on society, and that I never accomplished anything in my life. Would I not be worthy of celebration? Would I be undeserving of praise? I hope not. I feel that personally I might think that, but I know that my family and my friends would still celebrate me regardless.

And in my black little heart I might think (and sometimes still do) that it’s “just because they don’t/wouldn’t know any better” – but that’s not it. While they do celebrate and praise my hard work and accomplishments (when they happen, and let’s be honest, that’s not very often), they would do so even if I had not accomplished anything, because of the inherent value of undeserved human worth. That’s probably where we’re going to differ in opinion, and that’s okay.

Put another way, even if I turned out to be a total crap human being, I would still be loved. Part of being loved includes being celebrated and praised. That’s something that every human should, yes, be entitled to. Humans should be entitled to love from other humans. I feel like saying we should only celebrate hard work and accomplishments places conditions on that, and I don’t like that. I don’t think that’s how we should roll.

So basically what I’m saying here is let’s go for a happy medium between not celebrating accomplishments and not celebrating birthdays. I’m all for meeting in the middle. Especially if there’s going to be cake and sparkling apple juice and themed attire.

I like birthdays.

I like birthdays.

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