January birthdays are usually the worst, right? But one writer thinks that this year, they might actually be a blessing in disguise.
Full disclosure: I’m prone to being hyperbolic when it comes to talking about my birthday. But fellow Capricorns out there (and, of course, some Aquariuses) will know that trying to make anyone give a single crap about your celebrations in January is the absolute pits. And because my birthday lands towards the end of the month – a week before the first payday of the year and sometimes on so-called Blue Monday – I feel disgustingly sorry for myself most years.
Of course, I mostly manage to have a good time, but it takes a lot of hard work, emotional blackmail and the occasional argument. Even if I arrange something as simple as a walk and a pub lunch, 30 years of planning has taught me that only 50% of guests will turn up. The rest will say they’re too skint, too cold or just too fed up with winter to come. And Dry January, which I never partake in, means people don’t want to be tempted by my penchant for negronis.
So I’ll come clean: I had limited sympathy for friends who celebrated their birthdays during the first lockdown. Finally, those blessed springtime babies who might have once chosen a Netflix marathon over venturing outside in the ice and snow to come to my party would understand what it’s like to have a crappy birthday.
Evil? No. Petty and bitter? Oh absolutely.
You’ll understand my frustration, then, when it turned out they all had the best birthdays ever. People, including myself (I’m not a total cow), actually doubled their efforts: ordering fancy cakes to be delivered, spending three hours on a boozy Zoom call and sending much bigger and better presents than ever before. Oh, and the freakishly good weather we had also made each and every celebration positively glow in those Instagram photos.
Honestly, I was secretly raging, but it gave me hope that I might receive the same attention and effort if we were still under lockdown restrictions by the time my birthday came round in 2021.
And here we are.
During the Twixmas period, feeling ambitious after a whole Terry’s Chocolate Orange and tipsy on Malibu and Coca Cola, I decided to put the feelers out for a birthday brunch via Zoom. “There’ll be a one-woman show,” I typed, “and a quiz all about me. Oh and a karaoke session!”
Who on earth would turn down such larks during such a bleak time? And all they have to do is click a link, make scrambled eggs on toast, maybe pour a mimosa and watch the “fun” unfold. I imagined my name up in lights – like Sophie Ellis-Bextor bringing her disco party to the masses on social media.
Reader: the reaction was… tepid.
Look, I get it. This is probably the worst part of the pandemic. Anxiety is high and moods are low. We’ve all just got past the weirdest Christmas period we’ll probably ever have. Zoom is nauseating. People just want to wake up and get through the day. My birthday is absolutely not a priority.
And while I might stomp my feet and wallow in self-pity, I know that it will still be a special birthday. The stresses of a January birthday have taught me not to expect much grandeur, glitter and guests anyway. And spending just one day of this miserable month feeling even just a little special is a perk so many others won’t get. Finally, having a January birthday feels like a small blessing to keep me going.
But there will still be hell to pay if a flood of birthday cards doesn’t burst through my letterbox.