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  • Writer's picture By Diana G. Mendoza

The happiness of a virtual birthday party

Before I celebrated another birthday last month, I attended my seven-year-old niece’s Barbie-themed birthday party at a pizza restaurant. The balloons were in all shades of pink. The party hats were pink. My niece wore pink from headband to shoes. I’m not fond of pink so I wore a purple top. At least, it’s still near to pink, as there were purple balloons all over the place.

I don’t remember my parents throwing a birthday party for me with such flair. I think there was one time but it was never repeated. I grew up in a family that is not the invite-the-entire-neighborhood type during special occasions. I think that’s why during my birthdays, I love spending time alone, in my so called “me” time, and I would never trade it for anything in the world. I do celebrations, which are just intimate sit down meals and coffee time with friends, that is, if we’re not all too busy to agree on a date, after the birthdate.

So when I joined social media a few years ago, I tried, just for experience, putting my birthdate out there, publicly. I was anxious about what happens on that day. Will there be a Facebook party and is everyone coming? I don’t even party and I don’t like being in a roomful of people I just met, I hardly know or I have known from some distant past. Only a few know my history and what I do at present.

But true enough, there was a party. My FB wall was swamped with all kinds of Happy Birthday and HBD messages, mostly with exclamation points. It’s like opening the door for every person who rings it and who says his greeting, with almost the same inflection as the others, when you’re face to face. And then the hugs and kisses. There were advanced and belated greetings too.

It’s that convenient. And because they went into trouble writing their greetings, I hit the like button on each friend’s greeting and thanked them individually. For those with added wishes apart from the HBD, such as jokes and or asking how I was doing, I made sure I replied to the greeting with not just a thank you.

There was one time I wasn’t satisfied with just thanking each one who greeted, or was having second thoughts if indeed I got to thank everyone, and in which case if I forgot to thank one or two of them, I wrote a thank you message on my wall.

Years on and birthday greetings turned wackier with emojis and GIFs of birthday cakes with candles, exploding fireworks, flowers with wine and chocolates, party hats and balloons, dancing clowns and many other choices. Words have been replaced by images.

It’s still fun. It is crazier when I think that they greeted me because of the birthday prompt from FB, which is why I find FB a worthwhile waste of time if only because people greet you on your birthday after they saw the little reminder. It would be impolite not to, unless they didn’t go online and open their FB that day. In which case again, there’s no reason to mope.

Behind the zany FB greetings, I look at birthdays as reminders that I was once born and have come this far and that I’ll probably celebrate each birthday with deep thoughts of just having fun and letting the world go by while looking at the reality of accumulating many years. Until perhaps I realize that I am 120 years old and still having birthdays.

The good thing is the feeling is great while it lasts. I myself feel good greeting someone else on his or her birthday because I saw it on FB. The greeting may be an upper to an otherwise drab day. And it’s the most common greeting in the world: “Happy birthday!” It’s that simple.


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