Ok, so we’ve already agreed that I don’t have a birthday and am therefore impervious to the aging process but apparently some people out there are still adamant that they wish to celebrate getting one day closer to the grave and that the rest of us must mark this occasion also. Well, not only am I terrible at acknowledging the day of my own creation, I am currently in a vortex of guilt regarding the fact that in the past two months alone, I have managed to miss no less than 3 of my own family members’ birthdays.
It’s not that I dislike my family members, well, not all of them, so I really don’t intend to make them feel as shunned as the last can of Spam on the charity raffle prize table, it’s just that I appear to have a knack for letting “memorable” dates sail past me with the grace and ease of a pro figure skater. This is not easy when you consider the measures I have set in place.
Firstly, these dates happen on the same day every year, it’s not like they are randomly plucked out of a hat, willy-nilly. It’s also not the case that I have a terrible memory for dates and figures – I can still remember the phone number we had in a house I lived in when I was knee-high to a grasshopper and the date of my first pet’s untimely demise (the two are unconnected in case you thought there was a some horror movie-esque telephone pet slayer stalking my childhood).
Secondly, not only do I have these dates stashed safely away in my diary, I also have a very understanding and thoroughly pre-emptive mother who sends delicate little reminders regarding the upcoming age-related occasion, at least one week in advance. Half of me thinks she’s a smug overachiever for this; not only has she remembered someone’s birthday but she has also remembered that I will have forgotten and has remembered to remind me. If she wasn’t so lovely, I’d swear she only did it to highlight my failings. Evil cow. (Love you mum!)
On top of the memory and the mother, I also keep a handy stash of generic greetings cards in my desk drawer and another at home, for last minute dashes to the post office. You know the ones, a jolly little flower or an innocuous graphic print, the sort that are eternally suitable for a sudden neighbourly condolence, a “sorry you’re quitting your job as a metalwork teacher to move to the Congo to sell second hand umbrellas” and yes, even a happy birthday. Still, with all the tools I require to not miss yet another family anniversaire, *WHOOSH* there is goes, leaving a vapour trail across my calendar.
I’m not going to try to convince you that in my defence I’ve been so terribly busy and stressed of late that I keep forgetting I have a family, I’m pretty sure that a gaggle of A&E doctors would fall off their chairs laughing at the very thought (assuming, of course that a gaggle of A&E doctors actually have the time or inclination to read my humble witterings) so I shall instead pose the following argument – They keep breeding.
Time was, I only had to remember my parents, three siblings and a couple of cousins and that was more than enough, but then my darling sisters/cousins all met people they thought might make suitable spouses and got the silly idea that procreation would be fun. Ok, I’ll admit that it is fun but did you know that children are one of the most common STDs?! Anyway, there are now almost double the number of family member birthdays to forget.
I’m going to come off as a bit of a selfish brat here, and that’s partly because I am, but bear with me and save your hateful remarks for the comments section below, or better still, direct your angered energy somewhere more constructive – send a letter to your local government about some of the truly awful things they do. Or the makers of TOWIE for same. I actually feel slightly hard done by regarding the number of children’s presents and cards I have to buy each year because I have actually chosen not to have any children of my own. Having made this decision, I therefore find it rather galling that I’m still forking out what hard earned pennies I have left after rent and shoes and booze (you know, “the essentials”) for bits of tat from Claire’s Accessories and Mothercare! Apparently, opting out of the gene pool production line doesn’t exclude you from having the gift purchasing duties of other people’s bratlings thrust upon you year in, year out.
Now, as much as I know we’re all meant to love children, especially those related to us, and as I have pointed out above, I don’t wish to make any of my family members feel like a tin of reclaimed meat product, but as someone who has no affinity for children and whose toy purchasing ability is akin to that of a man buying lingerie for a new girlfriend, I can often be heard to have the following conversation with the shop keep of a High Street toy purveyor:
Shop keep: “Hello you gorgeous young single girl with fabulous dress sense and a cracking set of pins, how can I help you?”
PFPT: “Well, that was an incredibly wordy yet accurate greeting. I’ve had a text from mother which has alerted me to the fact I needed to buy a child’s gift three weeks ago.”
Shop keep: “No problem at all. What hobbies do they have?”
PFPT: “Errr, do kids have hobbies?”
Shop keep: “Ok, how old is the child?”
PFPT: “….ummmm about this high” [hovers hand vaguely between knee and waist]
Shop keep: “That’s ok, let’s try something easier. Is it a boy or a girl?”
PFPT: “Hang on, I think I know this one!”
Shop keep: “Is there even a child?”
PFPT: “I’ll just take a gift voucher. Children like playing with those, right?”
It’s really quite traumatic for all involved and not something I ever envisaged having to undergo several times a year.
A concession had to be made and that concession was that my siblings and their significant somethings no longer get the loot in order to give their offspring a fighting chance at getting something in the post within a 3 month window of their birthday, and I get a fighting chance of staying this side of bankruptcy (it also helps me limit the bitterness and resentment at having a returns ratio on gifts of 2:5 – for those not skilled at gift mathematics, that means for every 5 gifts I buy, I get 2 back. Kids see, not so generous with their 50p pocket money!).
My calendar now looks like it has been machine gunned with birthday reminders and still those dates whizz past. Something must be done or the guilt spiral I’m on will grow ever bigger and end up as a tornado of self-pity and drop a house on some poor unsuspecting witch. There is only one clear solution if everyone is adamant about continuing this ludicrous birthday tradition; in order for me not to spend the entire year forgetting, you’re all going to have to move your cake-and-cards day to Christmas Day.
Then I can forget you all in one go.