Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Specialness of Birthdays

Today is the birthday of someone I know. I received a reminder about this from networking group sites where she and I are members and marked 'friends'. It's easy enough to send her an e-mail or an e-card to wish her. She might even feel good about my wishing her. But she wouldn't feel as nice if I remembered it by myself, without the help of a Web site's reminder.

She may not know that it was a site that told me it was her birthday, but it's likely she'd guess because other 'friends' from the same site are also likely to wish her, and because I never asked her when her birthday was.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and we were saying how hard it was to find a greeting card shop these days. Although we live in Mumbai, where one should be able to buy almost anything, we discovered that the nearest Archies store is about 12 km away.

Remember how we loved to stop by a greeting card shop and we'd lose track of the time we spent in there, and how, though we went in to buy only one birthday card, we came out with a bag full of cards, bookmarks, keychains and other little things? It was a pleasure giving people cards, and shopping for them. We had such lovely ones in the 80s. I collected my favourite ones. It was assumed that everyone got and gave greeting cards--it figured in classroom discussions in school.

Now, there are such few (too few!) card shops, nobody sends greeting cards any more, and even bookmarks are mainly made as promotion merchandise.

Those days, if we received a birthday card, especially one that had words inside of relevance to us, we were touched. We knew that these people had gone to a card shop and thought of us long enough to select a card for us. They valued us that much. They spent that much time and money on us, their friends.

Today, we have e-reminders for birthdays and anniversaries, so we receive (free) wishes from a whole lot of people just because they saw their reminders--we may not value all of these wishes; only the ones sent by dearest friends. The ease of sending them seems to take away the specialness of a wish.

Then again, not everyone who receives the e-reminder bothers to wish the birthday person. So I suppose we must make the best of what we get. I guess we will always find ways to segregate our special people from the general crowd. Whether e-cards or paper greetings, we mainly look forward to the wishes of close friends and family, and they will shower us with their love and blessings by means of whatever the current trend.

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