The Best Birthday Gift

Gift woman painting Kirk Richards
(c) Kirk Richards

With my birthday just around the corner, I thought I might as well buy myself a well-deserved gift or two, some tea and books of course, in anticipation of the gifts others will likely give me. For birthdays have indeed that power to summon you into the memory of people who are usually too occupied with their own lives to trouble themselves too much about you. But then I thought, why do we need birthday gifts?

Gifts are okay when we receive them, and it would be impolite not to accept any that are given to us, but can’t we do without them? What if we don’t expect any birthday gifts from others, and not buy any ourselves, either? What if instead we give ourselves the gift of time?

Innocent as they are, birthday gifts are often quick fixes or attempts to make amends for things we did or didn’t do, for things we said or didn’t say. The best gift is not something money can buy, but the gift of our attention, the gift of time. To be given not just on a particular day, but all year round.

Not all relationships invite that gift, of course, and in many cases a purchasable thing will be okay, but as far as gifts we give ourselves are concerned, the gift of time is usually the most inspired. Time with ourselves, or with others dear to us, free from distractions and things we could use but don’t really need. Time to rest, introspect, and meditate, time to understand ourselves better.

It could be a much deserved vacation, a quick trip somewhere, or a quiet day at home, where we draw a line after yet another year, only to realize that the line is in fact more like a circle, and that it goes round and round like a rotor that won’t stop until its organic engine breaks, changing us without changing us, taking us a long way only to make us understand we have to return where we started, in perpetual company with our own self.

Because birthdays are continuations more than anything else, and they’re not even milestones, unless we let our minds make them so. Therefore, I here proclaim “Happy continuation day to me!“

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20 thoughts on “The Best Birthday Gift

  1. I love this idea! I would rather spend time with the people I love, but if I receive some amazing gifts along with time? Bonus!
    Happy Birthday early, my Romanian friend!

  2. Happy continuation day!
    I like that…
    Birthdays are nothing until made into something. I never liked them much as a kid, or now.
    I guess the celebration is that life is ongoing at its most basic.

  3. Well happy continuation day to you, Vincent. I also agree that time is a better present than any. Although sometimes a gal just wants an expensive perfume from somebody special to her. I hope you have a great birthday and lovely gifts, including timey ones.

  4. Dear Precious,

    It is true, time is the best gift. May this thought of you, that follows many, arrive upon your moonlit pillow as a fleeting sign of gifts to come…and may your days be rich of things that money cannot buy. Love from a faraway aunt xo

  5. Happy Continuation Day… the gift of time… how very precious! I prefer the original name (Birthday) because it identifies the reason for the gifting, however we choose to view it and act on it. Thanks for a fresh look at an old cultural practice.

  6. Happy Continuation and congratulations for all the gifts of wisdom you have accumulated and talents you have honed. You stand at a new beginning better equipped than before. Many blessings for a wonderful continuation. Blessings, in lak’ech, Debra

      1. Solar eclipse Sept 1 expected to usher in some blessed changes – especially for Virgo’s (if you happen to share my sign – I have a “continuation” coming up too!) 🙂 Blessings, and a hand salute back.

  7. My birthday is this week and I stumble upon this article. I like the line transforming into a circle metaphor and the way you write, it’s mesmerizing. Sending you an invisible birthday gift from Liverpool

  8. Happy belated continuation day, Vincent. Or, maybe a very happy unbirthday is more appropriate, but kind of cliche to say.

    Anyway
    my comment is late and the fact is that it is no longer
    your birthday or continuation day,
    but you wear a hat like no other.

    I haven’t been on WordPress in a long time, and tonight, your writing popped up as one of the first things suggested by this random, orchestrated system most people connect on.

    So, I did click…as I usually do, and I read your post.
    Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing to follow those suggestions?

    Here is my gift to you and it is in the form of a compliment:
    I like the way you write, because when I read it…I feel it. It seems honest. There is a sameness in our differences, and that is why I followed your writing originally.

    I like your way with words, and it’s very romantic and old-fashioned…by that I mean…it seems to be written with a deep history and respect, also a high level of discipline about what is shared online and what is kept inside. I understand that. Or maybe it’s a joke and I am totally wrong.

    We live on opposite sides of the world, or maybe, we might live next door to each other and be faking it. What you need to know about me is I am not faking it, this is a sincere response to your writings and what you seemed brave enough to share online, so I hope you are not some fiendish demon in disguise and instead the really nice person that I hope you are.

    “Happy birthday because what you wrote and shared brought me some solace and helped me not feel alone or misunderstood or isolated when I reached out for some common ground” sort of gift.

    Simple as that, I consider the day Vincent was born, a blessing…because of that random connection made years later and even if it was belated, and only because I read what you wrote and we never really connected or communicated.

    I’m sorry I have trust issues. It comes from a side of me that has been abused, and I am not afraid to say it. Let’s hope that changes.

    I wonder what my invisible gift will be. I hope it’s some sort of virtual hug. That would be nice.

    Carol

    1. Did I tell you that I like long comments very much?

      Your kind words do amount to a virtual hug, which is warmly returned.

      I am indeed a boy in a big world, and I do mean what I say. I am perhaps more fragile that you’d imagine, but otherwise I am a peaceful little island, afloat in literary possibilities.

      Why have you been away from blogging? I really hope now you’re here to stay!

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