I like giving birthday cards. Even to people I don’t care for. And anniversary cards. And other random cards to people just because I can (though these last mystify quite a few folks).
The reason why is pretty simple: I’m a geek. A nerd. A social outcast.
Not so much as I used to be, but it used to be really, really bad. The stuff of emo and goth songs, it was. Luckily, I was only taught to play recorder (badly), and that doesn’t lend itself to introspective dark brooding musings.
But I like to give birthday cards.
Partially, it’s a kind of karma thing. I hope that by giving birthday cards I’ll get one or two on my birthday (which we are nowhere near, by the way).
But more importantly, I remember Donny. And Lee. Donny bullied me the first two years of high school. I stood up to him once, and we ended up with a truce. My dad gave both of us a ride to a party, and Donny talked about his life at home. He didn’t identify it as such, and I didn’t get it then, but it was emotionally abusive. Lee was easily the most popular kid in my school at that time. Athletic, good looking, well-to-do family. Classic all-american upper class white blond boy. Who confessed once – just once – how shallow and empty it all felt, how he didn’t know whose friendship was real and who was just wanting to hang with the cool kids. I remember the popular girls who all saw me as “a great friend”. While frustrating (because I rarely saw THEM as “just a friend”), it let them confess to me how they used most men, how they didn’t feel loved, special, or cared about.
How they all felt like frauds.
Strangely enough, life does sometimes resemble an afterschool special.
So I try to remember birthdays.
I was horrible about it for years, and don’t have many people’s. Facebook and MySpace are blessings that way. I have them in my (private) GCal, and check each month to see whose is coming up.
Because apparently we’re all frauds. None of us really feels popular all – or even most – of the time.
We need that little reminder that we’re noticed, that someone else does care a little bit, no matter how much we’ve buried ourselves under cynicism, bitterness, and pain.
(Yeah, I’m lookin’ at *you*, buddy. We all figured it out long ago. I know a therapist referral service…)
So even if it’s “writing on someone’s wall”, or a little e-mail, or a real honest-to-goodness snailmail card… let someone know you give a damn.
At least on their birthday.