It’s that time of year again where my birthday comes around. To be honest, I’ve never really made much of a song and dance about my birthday, nor have I expected or really even wanted others to do so. After all, it isn’t like an analogue counter that suddenly clicks forward by one unit of measurement, all at once.
No, on my birthday I’m exactly one day older than I was the day before and to quite some degree I live my life day by day.
So now I’m in my mid-forties. I think that’s supposed to mean I’m all grown up, responsible, dependable and yes, predictable. I’m supposed to have mortgaged my soul and to have advanced my career and to have played my best at the game of keeping-up-with-the-Jones’.
Except I don’t think any of that really ever applied to me. For starters, and without denying my physical age, I don’t feel like I’m in my forties. I certainly don’t feel like I have all that much in common with people who were my current age when I was a teenager. In fact, I clearly remember what it feels like to be a teenager.
And no, I’m not having a mid-life crisis (although I’ll use that excuse when it suits me) and while the teenage me is alive and well somewhere in my head, he is sharing space with the 20-something me, the 30-something me and the 40-something me. Overall, I like who I am and even where I am in life.
No, I’m not a massive financial success, but I’m rich in many ways. To me, the best birthday present has always been along the lines of a friend saying “Happy birthday, let me buy you a beer” or whatever they’re offering. It isn’t about receiving presents, but rather about realising there are people to whom you matter and being able to spend time with them.
In so many ways, I’m an incredibly lucky man.
Anyway, here’s the deal: this year, I’m going to ask for a birthday present. Yes, from YOU. Yes, I realise I probably don’t know you.
And no, I don’t want you to give me anything for my birthday – I want you to DO something for my birthday.
I got the idea after reading this tweet:
You know the foodbanks? Is there a Christmas Present bank for young children anywhere?
— Tamasin McGregor (@spiritwriter66) November 11, 2013
You know the foodbanks that are springing up all over? I’d like you to and talk to them, because Christmas is coming and while it’s important that we all help to feed those that otherwise would starve, the reality is that people who cannot afford food certainly can’t afford presents for their children.
This is what I’d like you to do: buy (and wrap) a Christmas present for a child and deliver this to your local foodbank. You’d need to mark whether it’s a unisex toy, or a more gender-specific one, as well as the age bracket the present is aimed at. And while you’re there, also deliver some food for them to distribute? And perhaps even a fleece blanket, because people that cannot afford food also cannot afford heating.
Will you do that? I hope you will. That would be the best birthday present I’ve ever had.