Birthday Irony

The 3rd of September 2015 was my birthday – and it felt like the heavens fell off its suspenders. Days before the D-day, my mind strayed to how ironic birthdays have become in Nigeria – my native country.

Some time ago, I met a lady who told me that it was compulsory in her family for every member to buy gifts for anyone celebrating their birthday. No excuses. I was so awed by this information that it took me about 30 minutes to digest it. It was strange.

To be truthful, I would have been unqualified to talk about this a year ago. This year I made it a conscious duty to get gifts for some lucky people as much I could afford, to change the beliefs society had injected in me about birthdays. In other words, I was giving instead of receiving.

I can’t remember ever asking for anything from any person celebrating their birthday. Yesterday, I was asked many questions that with a common relationship – demands.

  • Where is my cake?
  • Where is my rice?
  • Where is the party?
  • Am I getting a limo or something?

The last one was really surprising.

While these questions may not be demands per se, but would rather be impulsive questions. I think Nigerians can do better (at least the ones I have met). Stories of surprise parties – the lights off and on the concept, the stockpile of gifts – are for now fantasies.

Birthdays are opportunities to appreciate a person’s influence, assistance in your life, or even relationship. I would not say I am Santa Claus, but I am on the path to change.

One very different question hit me by surprise. “What do you want for as a gift?” I was astounded, and I had no answer as “I never experrerit”. It has always been demand questions all my life. This actually happened two years ago, and the gift wish I made came true. An experience I will never forget.

Nigerians actually go out of their way to celebrate; give gifts and presents but this mostly happens when it is a celebrity, a boss or a VIP. Apparently, I am none of the above.

I would like to give more gifts on birthdays, and I am working towards this change. This is why I am keeping a list of valuable but not luxurious birthday gift ideas. This is not in the hopes of getting more gifts in the future. I have made no promise to any specific person – to be held to ransom for this decision.

It is about the smile and wave of happiness and joy that beams when the gift is appreciated and liked by the recipient.

Let’s toast to a new “birth year”, my friends.

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