Non-Tangible Birthday Gifts

birthday candles Saturday is my birthday. Other than being excited to see friends for the Frida Tweetup – whoop-de-doo. Make no mistake about it, I do love my birthday. Born on February 5th, I’ve said since about 1985 – “Feb 5 is a great day to come alive.” It’s situated far enough past Christmas that budgets have recovered, and just before people have shot their wad on Valentines’ Day. I do love presents….but this year, it really seems unimportant.

Last year I celebrated my 30th birthday, and it felt pretty monumental. But  for the first time ever…this birthday just feels like another year in the history books. At this point, I’m really just happy to still be around. 30 was a year of physical health struggles, mental health struggles, financial struggles, and the beginning of the biggest identity crisis I’ve ever faced. I’ve made it through with the support of family and friends – both online and in person.

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with a friend over Facebook about birthday gifts. She wanted to know if she should get me an iTunes gift card or something off my Amazon Wishlist. She’s been unemployed for several months, and it meant so much that she was planning to spend her meager funds on me. I hate to think of her spending money on that I know she doesn’t have. I told her that I didn’t need a gift…and she seemed sad that I rejected her opportunity to give. Since then, I’ve been pondering this idea. And late in the night, I had a thought – this year I’d rather have non-tangible gifts.

It means the world to me when a random stranger smiles at me. Or someone offers to watch my daughter so I can have some non-mommy time. I read and reread the heartfelt emails I receive which say why I’m loved and important to them. Blog comments and Twitter replies feel like a gift…it helps me know that my thoughts and words make a difference. I love getting invitations to come over to have dinner with a friend’s family, thus taking away the stress of deciding what to make for dinner after work. I love getting unexpected mentions online, such as links to my blog posts or professional recommendations on LinkedIn. I love when people show up at my house randomly to give me a hug (and don’t judge me for my messy house.) Or just slap a sombrero on my head, sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, and present me with a dish of fried ice cream.


So unless you were planning on giving me a stash of Coke Zero, don’t waste your money on a birthday gift for me. I’m curious what people will do/say, so I will report back next week to let you know how my non-tangible birthday gift experiment went.

  • Those are the best kind of gifts and that’s what we do! I am still waiting for my kids to help me clean the house though {my birthday wish}! My brothers birthday is on Feb. 5th too! Your online presence makes me smile so I owe you one on the 5th for sure!! Happy Birthday and I’m happy to see you starting your celebration mode early!

  • It is so interesting that you said that now that you have turned 30 this birthday does not seem as important. I am a year older than you and I feel the same way. Last year on my 31st I asked my friends to just spend time with me. They put together a tea party, even though I did get a gift from one of them I was most excited about the fact that we were all together and I was not alone on my birthday since hubby was flying. I love your post. Definitely will stay tuned to see if people listen. Have a very happy birthday :0)

  • Thanks ladies! I think that I’m craving human connection for my birthday because my husband IS out of town for the weekend. The things I asked for in this post, I also said to him. He didn’t get it…he’d rather buy stuff off my Amazon Wishlist! Men!

  • My favorite thing on my birthday is the DELUGE of happy birthday and loving thoughts from Facebook. I mean, I don’t tend to get very large presents anyway… but I love those. 🙂

  • The gift I ever got came from my husband. It was a card with a Dalai Lama-ish character on the front. He held an empty box and said, “Nothing! Just what I always wanted!” As a minimalist, sometimes nothing is the best gift someone can give me. Although a comment or two is always great:).

  • Sweet. I asked for charitable contributions for my 50th, and raised almost $3000. I was really pleased about that – the two charities mean a lot to me, and I really just don’t need more stuff.

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