Somewhere, late birthday wishes are acceptable

“In some parts of the world, it’s customary to send birthday wishes the day after a person’s birthday. I don’t know where, but I’m apparently from there.”—verse found on one of the many belated birthday cards I’ve bought.

A new year’s resolution that’s been making the list now for most of my life has already bit the dust. While that is nothing new, I don’t intend to forget birthdays. Actually, I usually do remember them—sooner or later. It’s just that I forget to send a card. On time. All right, so I sometimes forget to send a card at all.

“Don’t you have a birthday this month,” I said to my youngest sister, Sylvia, one day last week?

“No,” she replied dryly.

“That’s right,” I acknowledged remembering that February is the month for my other sister, Leslie’s birthday. “Yours is in June.”

“May,” she quipped adding just for my benefit, “I lucked out, got the same month again this year.”

My intentions are good. However, I’m typically in trouble by the first week. My niece Diana and a good friend from living on Lake Murvaul days, “Postmaster Paula,” both have birthdays the first week of January. If I miss them, and I usually do, then I’m already behind before my grand twins, Sarah and Haven’s birthday rolls around a couple of weeks later. That’s when I admit defeat, hang it up and move that resolution to next year’s list. Again.

I really thought I had the perfect solution some years ago. Rather than remain Hallmark’s best customer for belated cards, just send everyone a birthday card on January first. That way, everyone gets a card from me before I have a chance to forget their birthday. About halfway through addressing cards on New Year’s Day, however, second thoughts crept in as I envisioned the potential confusion I was about to create.

Diana would get hers first and call her mom. Sylvia would, in turn, be calling family members to spread the news, “Bubba’s on the ball this year, Diana got a birthday card.” That would likely have happened before she found a card in her mailbox.

About the time Sylvia was scratching her head, Mom would have been going through her mail. I loved my Mom. I’m not saying she was slow you understand, but when telling her a joke, you had to sometimes wait for that sound—you know, that “whoosh” sound that flies over someone’s head while they’re processing. Receiving a birthday card in January would have triggered that sound and that look on her face. “A birthday card? It’s not June.”

Knowing mom as we all did, Sylvia would have already been on the phone. “Don’t get excited mom, we’re not sure what Bubba’s up to, but it’s not June. Just save your card and open it again on your birthday. By then you will have forgotten, and you’ll be surprised again.”

Before that conversation was over, Leslie would have been on the phone to Sylvia. “I don’t believe it. Leon mailed me a birthday card a month early.”

“He sent me one too—five months early,” Sylvia would likely have responded. “Not to mention Mom five months early and dad seven months early”

I just couldn’t do it. Carefully considering the havoc I could be inflicting on my family, I put the cards aside electing to mail them on the appropriate dates. Hey, they were already addressed.

If memory serves me correctly, it was in March of that year when Sylvia called. “Oh no,” I said upon hearing her voice. “I addressed birthday cards for everyone and forgot to send them.”

“You bought birthday cards,” she asked? “Yeah, right.”

“Really,” I argued. “They’re around here somewhere.”

“Sure, they are,” she laughed. “So, where did you put them?”

“I don’t know,” I said slowly. “Hey, did you just hear that—that whoosh sound?”

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune.


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