As a child I never understood why adults thought getting older was a sad affair. But now that I am technically an adult I finally see what all the fuss is about.
The birthday is just an annual reminder of how unpopular I am. I am not saying I should be popular. I'm not some complimentary, positivety-espousing gal. I'm just saying I'm not so evil that I need a yearly reminder. Even when I try to avoid the whole thing by not planning anything or inviting anyone anywhere there are still the post birthday questions from people I know (notice the distinction between people knowing you and people liking you) "What did you do for you birthday?" As if I am supposed to do something for it.
However, depressing the pressure to celebrate with a bunch of friends a person is expected to have that is not why growing older is a sad affair. It is of course about the gifts. At some point in time birthday gifts just dry up. Once upon a time relatives and family friends would buy gifts or better yet would send cards with money in them. Now, no one does that. It's over. The problem lies in the lack of warning. No one tells you that one day you won't be getting gifts anymore for your birthday. No one explains that birthday gifts from relatives are like Trix cereal, for kids. If society is going to teach this lesson in school the least people could do is warn you the year before in a birthday card.
"Happy 21st birthday. Here's $20 have a drink on me. Enjoy it because this last birthday gift you'll receive from me."
"Happy 25th birthday you're old enough to rent a car which means next year you're too old for a birthday check."
"Wow you've made it to 30 years old. Well, I guess, you're lucky enough you don’t need my money anymore. "
The crazy irony in all this is that when I was a kid I didn't really need gifts. I had no bills, no rent to pay, and as far as toys go I could amuse myself with a yardstick for hours a day. But now forget it. There are bills, and rent, and a great need for toys to help distract me from the fact that birthdays are an unpopularity contest. If I had been warned I would have saved all the gifts from my youth and started unwrapping them now.