Released On 26th Mar 2021
Maggie's blog: It’s a birthday but not as we know it
With the anniversary of going into lockdown 1.0, everyone in the UK has presumably experienced a COVID impacted birthday. In our family of 5 people, our birthdays are concentrated into 2 months. We have 3 birthdays in March and 2 in June, so we are getting into the second round of birthdays in COVID times.
We think my husband has had it the worst as his big day is on 22nd March. He was in the unlucky situation of having a 2020 birthday on the cusp of a full lockdown. Then his 2021 birthday was in full lockdown 3.0 with nothing really open (even our local cafe was closed for takeaway as it was a Monday) which was even sadder as it was his big 5-0.
I had my birthday a couple of weeks ago and the contrast between 2020 and 2021 was very marked. In 2020 I went to a spa (remember those?!), had a facial, wallowed in the jacuzzi, ate a very nice champagne afternoon tea and hung out reading magazines in a towelling robe. Looking back at my journal from that time I naively wondered if I should be worried about coronavirus.
Fast forward to 2021 and this year I went for a run with my friend (state sanctioned exercise) and a walk lapping my local park with my sister and baby nephew (again, moving at all times). Fortunately the weather was nice, our local cafe was open for takeaway coffee and my sister and I are never short of chat. With my husband and kids I had a takeaway in the evening, my daughter made me a cake and we watched a movie that I chose on Netflix.
Whilst on paper the contrast is somewhat depressing and a stark reminder of how our lives have changed, there was one thing that our family all agreed on and that was that lockdown birthdays were no less happy occasions. This year I was much less busy and as result much more conscious of all of the whatsapps, texts and zoom calls that I received from family and friends. I had time to read them properly and respond throughout the day. I had more time to open and savour the cards and gifts that people had sent. I had more time to appreciate the love and thought that people had put into my birthday.
And what of the kids’ birthdays? My 7 year old has her birthday the day before mine in early March. In 2020 she was the last of her friends to have the typical pre-COVID style party of 20 kids at a leisure centre with an activity plus tea and games. Of course with that came the mountain of presents which she opened in a frenzy of paper and plastic.
This year she was home schooling. With her birthday badge and massive number 7 balloon front and centre, her friends sang happy birthday to her on Teams, and she received a lot less presents. We got creative and made the day special by bunking off school early and going for a walk/bear hunt to the forest. We had 3 special meals that she chose and we all watched her favourite TV show with her. At the end of the day she declared it the best birthday ever and it had cost us a fraction of the price.
Therein lay a learning for me, indeed applicable to the whole of the past year: birthdays are about enjoying time with people you love in whatever setting that may be. That’s what makes them special not mounds of presents and expensive days out. If this year has taught me anything it’s to slow down, pay attention to the little things, appreciate what I have and see the bigger picture. Although I do confess that I am craving another spa day with the girls!
Maggie is mother to 3 children aged 12 and 7 and wife to a fantastic husband who works full time and shares the parenting responsibilities equally. She works 4 days per week in marketing for a large firm in central London.