The Facebook Birthday

Once a year, my Facebook wall (and my FB connected cellular phone) becomes a flurry of nearly constant activity.   Of course, anyone who is on Facebook likely knows exactly what I am talking about… Your birthday! 

Each of the past few years, as my birthday approaches – I almost begin dreading the day.  I start worrying about if / how / when to reply.  I mean, do I try to thank everyone as they stream in (all day long) in small batches or do I wait, until the day is over and thank each person individually in one big batch?  What if I miss someone?  Will they be irritated with me?  Will they feel slighted?   What if instead of an individual thank-you for each person, I just did one big massive thank you to everyone all in one singular update?  

These worries (among a few others since I am a chronic “what if’er” – just ask the Mother of Five) start to cause me a little bit of anxiety about my birthday, but….  As the birthday wishes start rolling in I start to really look at them.  Not so much the actual CONTENT but more the SOURCE of the birthday wishes.  That’s when it occurs to me (and I am then reminded every few minutes) just how lucky I am. 

The birthday wishes come from..      

Family.  Immediate, and extended.  These are the folks that (like it or not) you can’t get rid of.  Parents, siblings, in-laws, extended family.  Many of them have been there for us since BEFORE the beginning – and there are many that will be there beyond our departure.  They also have to put up with our $%#@ more than anyone else.  Just as we are stuck with them, they are stuck with us.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife and five pretty amazing kids that bring me more joy than I could have ever possibly imagined.  They are essentially what keeps me going every day.       

Neighborhood friends.  The kids and their parents that I grew up around.  The kids were more like siblings.  Our friends’ parents put up with us.  They opened their homes to us (and we opened our homes to them).  Together, we explored our neighborhood, made unexpected discoveries, and expanded our horizons.  This means things like “eating over”, sleepovers, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, saved Monopoly games, tree forts, the introduction to video games, frog ponds, birthday parties, and summer nights running around the neighborhood in the dark.   

Elementary and Junior-high classmates.  Having “come of age” in a private school setting in a relatively quiet suburban enclave – I had no idea at the time how much of my life and my future memories would be tied to these people.  (I sure wish I had!)  While I had a core group of buds back then, I’m surprised (happily surprised) how much they all (even if they were not part of my regular group of close friends) mean to me.  I have actually enjoyed getting to know some of these folks (thanks to social media) better than I ever did when we spent six hours a day together, nine months out of every year!  I have said it before (proof).  My “Nativity friends” are more like extended family to me.  There isn’t a one of them that cause me to smile when I get the chance to interact with them.       

High School / Youth Group / College friends.  See above – only a larger universe.  My private high school class was (relatively speaking) pretty small.  I was able to name everyone, and I think it would be safe to say that I could call each of them an “acquaintance” at the very least.  These were the formative years of development.  My interaction with many of these people forever impacted who I am today.  Things like music, cars, Boundary Water Canoe trips.  Teachers (and youth ministers) who challenged us, and mentored us, and (I believe some) truly cared for us.  There was girls, and crushes, which sometimes lead to disappointment, and heartbreak (and the friends who helped us through).  Today when I interact with someone from these days gone by, I may hear a song, smell a smell, see a face, or just be whisked back to a memory of some really good times.  
Co-workers, supervisors and mentors  I have been very fortunate.  I have pride in the jobs I have held through the years.  I met some really wonderful people.  People who mentored me, taught me, shaped me – and others who allowed me to mentor them, teach them, and shape them (honestly, most fall into both categories.  I often learn as much as I teach – and try to teach as much as I learn.  Even this 20+ year dispatch veteran is not above learning something from the “newbies”.  I look back at the jobs I have held, as well as my current career and realize how fortunate I have been to be associated with so many amazing and talented people .

Blogging friends The Life of a Father of Five has been a ten year endeavor for me.  At a time (ten years ago) with five kids between the age of 3 and 17 – I had little time for much of anything more than work and home (heck, that’s still true ten years later).  Through this website, I have connected with some REALLY amazing people.  The connections I have made are REAL.  Their lives that they share with me are REAL.  Their pleasures and pains, their successes and their failures.  They are all REAL.  These friends are meaningful to me and have taught me many life lessons -  just as I hope my pleasures and pains, successes and failures have taught them something.   

If you are reading this, more than likely you fall within one (or more) of the categories above – and if that is indeed true – and you are one of those very special people who wished me a happy birthday, then I would like to PERSONALLY thank you!  Whether I “liked” your message, replied to your message, or (heaven forbid) missed dong either – just know that your interaction (regardless of how slight) reminded me just how fortunate I am to have family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, mentors, and even virtual connections that bring me so much joy, fill me with so many fond memories, and help make me grateful for a life that is nothing short of incredible.  

Thank you Facebook.  Thank you for the flood of wonderful birthday wishes, and the reminder how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do.

If you must know... I sure did.
I had a great birthday, filled with wonderful wishes from amazing friends.      

1 comment:

  1. I think a single post thanking everyone for their birthday wishes is quite acceptable. We do not wish to be a burden or obligation, we want you to know we are glad you were born and that we are glad to know you in (even if only cyberly) and we want your birthday to be HAPPY not stressed. Happy every day!


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