Birthdays in lockdown

What is it like to celebrate being alive when life has changed so dramatically? 

Birthdays in lockdown

If you love being the centre of attention on your birthday, with a week long palooza, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, if you're in the camp that generally sees them as another unwanted reminder of your own mortality, or are a happily committed introvert, this could well be your best birthday ever. Whether you love them or hate them though, you usually expect to see somebody, right? It's my firm belief that whatever your preference, your birthday ought to be celebrated as the most selfish day of the year. 

Personally, having just experienced a birthday in lockdown, I’ve come to reflect on the experience as kind of nice. I've certainly warmed to life in lockdown, and the realisation that furlough is the closest our generation may get to a pension gives us the excuse to enjoy it where we can. 

There's a lot of similarities. Your mobility is restricted, your relatives avoid you, and more of your food is delivered. You even get to annoy people with the phrase "I don't know how I ever found time to work!" while looking adoringly at your potatoes. 

I'm not the first in my family to have a lock-down birthday either. My brother pipped me by a couple weeks, but he's sharing isolation with his flatmate, while I just happened to be marooned with my partner in time – a much better proposition, if I do say so myself. 

Technically, it’s technical snooping

Lockdown has introduced another great benefit, seeing how other families operate without having to truly get involved in the politics of meeting them. 

If you’re lucky (?) enough to share your bunker with someone else, it provides a great opportunity to experience their family dynamics without having to attend a wedding, funeral or family get-together. You get to compare notes, and see how the family unit operates. Do you talk for hours? Do you take turns taking the mick out of each other? Is there a bossy family honcho who dominates the conversation? Or is it all about the headlines? 

Birthdays are a nice excuse to have full-scale, regular catch-ups with those who are important to us, even if it is just virtually, and you spend half your time troubleshooting tech problems (is it ever not user error?). We've all settled into the rhythm of which apps to chat with our friends on and which – usually rubbish ones – we're more likely to engage our families with, spending an hour talking to whichever half of a face you can manage to see.

Distilling what’s important

Without the option of driving wherever you like for your one special day in the year (unless you're testing your eye-sight, obviously), you're forced to distill what it is you really need for a day. The point is, it's not all about fireworks and glitter, sometimes it's the little gestures that stand out. 

For me, it was a bit of family time, some sunshine, some grass to sit on and a portion of deeply unhealthy food with someone I cared about. I was lucky with the weather and the bit about not having to spend my every waking hour with a well-meaning house-mate, but there's usually something on that list that we can all get in on.

If you can take one thing from lock-down (herd immunity aside) why not let it be the difference between what you want, and what you need? 

Header Image Credit: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Daniel Hodgkiss

Daniel Hodgkiss Contributor

I am a nature-loving country boy who likes to dabble in illustration and get lost in a good book, I hope to write a few of my own eventually. Honestly, I use this as an excuse to get out more and keep writing...

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