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Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Gift of True Surprise

Holidays seem to take on new meanings and associations as we age, picking up new memories and ideals as one occasion passes to the next, and we rack up experience. From the wondrous days of childhood when Christmas, Hanukah, birthdays, and special graduations or anniversaries held nothing but excitement and fun to the seeming madness of holidays experienced by modern adults, a shift occurs somewhere, and many may feel holidays as more of a burden or responsibility than a cause to celebrate. As if the stress of gift-giving holidays wasn't heavy enough, new holidays crop up from time to time, adding extra sections to the greeting card aisle. Though a lot of people are still able to enjoy the warmth and community spirit of holidays, there are many that grow disillusioned with the onslaught.
Like most children, I had a favorite holiday growing up. It wasn't Christmas, such a popular day among kids eager for the promise of toys, nor Thanksgiving. Easter was close (when else do kids get to wreak havoc indoors with dye?), but not quite; Valentine's Day was ruined by the prospect of chalky conversation hearts, and Halloween was fun but couldn't quite compare. My favorite holiday wasn't even widely celebrated: it was from a book. Like the Mad Hatter and his company of friends in the children's classic Alice in Wonderland, I celebrated "un-birthdays," those 364 days a year when one's not adding another number to their age. To have an un-birthday meant all sorts of tasks and events could be given new meaning; a special outing was more like a party, a dinner was an un-birthday feast, a favor or kind deed a spirited celebration.
As an adult, I've felt some of the sheen on traditional holidays lose a bit of luster over the years, amidst the commercialization and sometimes forced cheer with which they're associated. But un-birthdays seem immune, able to be celebrated any time (well, except of course when my "real" birthday comes along). And I've found that one of the most fun ways to give gifts to other people is to include them in this special holiday. Great for a true surprise, but also for introducing someone special to the concept of celebrating when there's meaningful cause rather than only when the calendar dictates, gift-giving for un-birthdays is a fun way to take up the "just because" gift trend that's becoming more popular around the nation and the world.
Jewelry remains one of the top gifts for special holidays, but it doesn't have to be restricted to those few times a year when the shops put out their prettiest pieces. From charming, sentimental costume jewellery to items that dazzle the eyes with big statements, jewelry makes a wonderful un-birthday present, and a great start to a new tradition, however many times a year you're inspired to note that it's someone's special un-day.

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