Birthdays are happy, cheerful, joyous occasions when you are a child, especially if you have a party, cake, family and friends to share it with. 

Blow out the candles. Make a wish and see all the smiling faces as they beam at you. 

It’s your special day. They are all happy for you, glad you’re here, that you’re you, and you know they love you. 

You might wish that you’ll all be best friends forever, but you don’t tell them your wish. You really want it to come true. 

However, the special magical glow of childhood innocence gradually fades as you get bigger, mature and become accustomed to the ways of the physical world. You discover such things as loss, pain and disappointment.

But birthdays are still great. You’re growing, getting stronger, moving out and about and seeing what the world is made of. And you’re discovering the wonderous attractions of the opposite sex. 

Awkward teenage years are filled with endless boring school days. History, geography and math fill your head with facts and pieces of information that are supposed to be meaningful to you someday. 

But music, friends and laughter lighten your mood as you get ready to plunge into college, the military or the nine to five work day world. 

Your adult birthdays are celebrated social events depending on the number of your close friends and family ties. But they have a grownup, more serious and superficial feel to them. You now have enough candles to fill the cake and it’s a task to blow them all out at once. 

Still, the ritual of your birthday party is an affirmation of you’re being here and being recognized by your close friends for you’re passing a major milestone on the calendar date of your birth.

Career, marriage, house, kids and responsibilities leaves not much time for fun and games and frivolous activities like birthday parties. Besides, they are a stark reminder that you are getting older. 

But still it’s nice to be wished “Happy birthday” and receive hugs, kisses and birthday cards. Maybe there’s a party and maybe even lighted candles and ice cream! 

Wow, it’s almost enough to make you feel like a child again. 

The decades roll by. You slow down as your hair thins and begins to turn grey. Your sparkle and thrill of living takes a bit of energy to rev up when you rise each morning. 

And gravity appears to grow stronger day by day. You hesitate when people ask how old you are or when is your birthday. You may be apt to reply “I’m turning twenty nine” or “No more birthdays for me”. 

You are lucky if people remember your special day and especially if you get a birthday card in the mail. It’s a simple gesture, but to you it’s a treasure. 

Somebody still knows that I’m here. Somebody loves me.

If there happens to be a party, cake, candles and all, well congratulations. It looks like you hit the jackpot. 

It means your life is a success and you’re showered with love and kindness from family, friends and admires. 

I think birthdays are a time for contemplation and reassessment of all the years you’ve traveled down the road of life. And if you’re anywhere close to my age, well I would say it’s been a long, rough, twisting up and down road. But it’s a road you’re still on after all this time. You’re still here, you’re still you and you’re still mobile. 

Like many other oldtimers, my bygone days, far away places and memories are still ever so real to me these days. A land of horses and carts, small self-sufficient farms with large families working the land and living simple lives; those were some of my happy childhood days living in the peaceful green fields of Ireland. 

My brothers, sisters and I had birthday parties, cake and candles. I remember when I turned four, and it seemed to take an eternity until I reached five years old and started school. And the many twists and turns and changes in the adventures of this life of mine kept coming.

But after all the changes we are still human. We still have emotional connections, affections and hopes and dreams of a better life in our future.  

Interestingly, in this modern advanced electronic age of ours, it seems birthday cards are becoming obsolete. Email messaging instructs my robot to tell your robot to wish you “Happy birthday” 

But how can you put sincere warmth, joy and love into a digital message?

I know, dear reader, how you can make someone feel special, wanted and loved. When it’s their birthday, throw them a party and invite all their friends. See the smile and glow in their eyes as they blow out the candles. They may very well feel like a child again. 

Dan can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com