It’s my daughter’s birthday today. Happy birthday Ellen!
Birthdays are big in our house. We all gather first thing in the morning and the sounds of “Happy birthday to you!” shake the rafters. Our cakes have all the candles. My last birthday was my 65th and the light from my cake was confusing shipping in the Coral Sea.
Why am I telling you this?
As a warning. The thing is: my daughter’s pregnant. For the second time. So that’ll be three birthdays to celebrate. Then there’s the other four children and their children. And their partners; and their partners’ children.
I’m up to 16 already. Sixteen birthdays is half a month; and I haven’t even started counting my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. Then there’s my wife’s. Birthday celebrations for the extended family take up two whole months!
True, we don’t all nip over to England to sing Happy Birthday to my sister, but we still have to remember and we have to send a card and a present, and we have to telephone and sing Happy Birthday down the phone.
Then there’s the friends. This can’t go on; especially if the country is dragging me into economic turmoil. I don’t have the time, I donâ€˜t have the money and I don’t have the memory. I even have one of those birthday calendars hanging on the toilet door, but all that does is remind me that I’ve just missed someone’s birthday.
The number of times my agonised cry has seared its way down the street while I’ve been locked in the lavatory must leave people thinking I have something terminally wrong with my bowels, but it’s really just my brain that’s stuffed.
I’m exhausted. I don’t think I can take much more. The sheer weight of celebrations is knocking years of my life. Probably a good thing, because if I don’t die soon I shall run out of money for the gifts, the phone calls, the cakes, the candles.
I don’t know what the answer is. Don’t have children, I suppose. Or not so many. And keep them away from the opposite sex.
And don’t make friends. But if you do, be sure to say something deeply insulting to them before their birthday.
The problem grows faster than a sub-prime mortgage crisis: if you have five children and each one of them has five children (and why shouldn’t they if you did!) and each one of them has five children, you could be in for 155 birthdays every year, as well as your wife’s, if she hasn’t died of shock by then.
There are supposed to be positives in this situation. For example, when I finally do have 155 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I should, if there were a God, receive 155 presents every January 3. But it doesn’t work like that. I’ll get presents from each family group. That is, five. They’ll probably be ties, but by then it won’t matter, because I won’t remember what they’re for anyway.
Of course, that’s the other thing that keeps increasing in number as you get older â€“ funerals!
But you don’t have to worry about a present.