The birthday conundrum. Children love birthdays. The presents, the cakes and the parties. A day to celebrate your birth. The very young are the reason parents and grandparents join to party in celebration. Once a child is old enough to enjoy presents the focus returns to the child. Theme parties with all the children from your grade school class or your sport team. Gifts the token for entry to the party.
Then adolescence brings a new focus to the birthday celebration. Boyfriends and girlfriends flirt, dance and sneak out to make out. A ritual continued through high school and college. The main difference instead of punch, beer is served. Cards replace presents and receiving an invitation becomes the new prize.
Upon leaving school and joining the workforce the emphasis changes to smaller dinners and cards. A few close friends and family still bring gifts, but the gathering of loved ones takes center stage. Busy lives and travel restrict the celebrations. People leave and new friends are made. Until one realizes a fire permit is necessary to light the candles. Another shift occurs. Gratitude for a life well lived.