This post isn't strictly frugal living, but I felt like laughing about it...
I survived another birthday recently, one of those big ones, so I kept it kind of quiet. Not because I'm embarassed about my age (I'd say how old I am except for concerns about identity theft), but because I'm superstitious about it---my last big one involved a natural disaster. I decided to work all day on my birthday and just go out with my younger daughter for supper.
So, it's not surprising that the only person who remembered my birthday on that day was my younger daughter. My other daughter did very nice things for me on our earlier visit and wasn't awake and at home at the same time all day. My father sent me a very sweet card the week before. I don't allow my birthday on FB or anywhere else for privacy concerns.
What got me was who, or rather what, DID remember. Computer programs. My morning started with an e-mail from my insurance company, I got a second one from from another company, and when I logged in to my student Web page, I discovered that there was a big birthday message...from the computer system.
I guess it's one of those signs that I'm just plain old, because having a computer remember my birthday is just bizarre. I love computers, don't get me wrong, but the idea that companies put that kind of programs in place (which also makes me worry about the security of the software involved) just creeps me out a little.
However, on the subject of birthdays, this can be a traumatic time if you're trying to buy a present for someone. But I can say that my younger daughter did more to make me feel very loved and important just by doing a few small, thoughtful things. The morning starting with a hug and a "good morning." Going out of her way to be early to go out for dinner, and surprising me with ice cream for dessert (and a completely unnecessary apology that she couldn't make a cake this year between her class and her new job.) And when we got home, she had installed a computer game that she knew I liked on my computer for me. Just little things, but thoughtful ways to tell me that I was important enough to her to go out of her way a little.
As far as presents go, if you ask my daughters which Christmas they remember the most, they'll tell you it was the one when they woke up and discovered a piece of yarn tied to the bedroom doors for each of them, leading them through a Twister-like maze of two intertwined spider webs that they had to follow around the living room (and each other) to find their presents. It was a morning of giggles and laughs, more than a reward for the hour or so I spent setting it up the night before. None of us remember the presents that year, though the reason I did this was because we'd agreed on a single big item---a TV or DVD player, I think (notice we don't even remember what that one was). So there were only a few other small gifts, which I felt would be a bit of a let down on Christmas morning, and came up with the maze to make sure they had some fun in addition to our other traditions.
There are times that a gift is just so perfect or amazing that you remember it. But that's because it DOES only happen once or twice. A friend's son recently gave his younger sister a laptop for her birthday, an extravagant and loving present. Everyone in their family will remember that unique present. At the same time, both of those kids, and both parents, do little things every day that tell each other how important they are, and those are most of the things that people remember in the long run. When you start planning for someone's birthday, even your own, think of it in terms of "what will they remember?" Most of the time, it isn't the expensive gifts, it's the fun.