Of birthdays in 2020
November is fast approaching which also means that they new year is not too far away. Are we really coming into 2021 now? I feel like in some ways this year was never going to end, but now it feels like it went really quickly and almost in blur.
In Adelaide at least, it feel likes ages ago that we were in some form of lockdown. When I think back on some of the socially-distant celebrations I’ve been a part of in those few months, I realize how special those shared milestones have been. There are the occasional morning or afternoon tea catch-ups among neighbors across each other’s front yards. I am still able to take part in nieces and nephews’ birthday parties through Zoom. I have been especially missing my dad (who is lucky enough to self-isolate, but certainly missing the rest of him family). He celebrated his birthday in May and although I could not celebrate with him in person, I am grateful that we can keep in contact every day and that more importantly, he is safe and well.
A friend of mine celebrated her birthday during the week that the restrictions were eased. She originally planned to travel to New York in celebration of this special birthday, but that trip was obviously cancelled due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, her close friends made sure that it was still an extraordinary day. They decorated her house and adorned sections of it to themes that would coincide with her planned itinerary for her New York trip such as Central Park, Times Square, Little Italy, Brooklyn, and the Upper East Side. The food and drinks were all organized as part of the theme – down to the New York cheesecake and the cocktails. Usually, a birthday would be celebrated by a big group having dinner and then have drinks out in the city. Still, upon reflection, the pandemic has allowed the creation of a very special night for a beloved friend.
A more recent birthday celebration was planned with my friend’s partner, who wanted to make it extra special for her. There was only a handful of us, and I was grateful to be a part of it and celebrate a wonderful person. We organised a treasure hunt through the city, with a clue each time that led us to the next place. We started at the National Wine Centre and then on to Bai Long for food, then to Love, Stephy for dessert, and then the Howling Owl before finally ending the celebration at a friend’s house. At the end, we gave her our little present, a Kate Spade mirror with an engraving that said, “look inside to reveal the treasure”. (Okay, it sounds a bit corny, but it's pretty sweet and she was really touched.)
These birthday celebrations have allowed us to be more purposeful, more thoughtful, and creative in celebrating the special people in our lives. It’s created this space for more intimate conversations where, if we are allowed to be face-to-face with other people, we can put our phones down and appreciate being more present with each other. The pandemic may have caused us to change the way we celebrate birthdays at the moment – it’s different, but it is still meaningful and certainly memorable.
What has always been important still remains, and that is connection.