Because of my looks, or maybe because of how I often label myself as a “lone wolf,” a common misconception people have of me is that I don’t really have strong family bonds, or that I don’t care for traditions. The latter is true at times, but the former couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m very family-oriented, and if I ever get married, I have no doubt in my heart that I’d be a family man.
And so, I have a confession to make: I made my birthday dinner into a family tradition.
Up until I was 26 and moved to Japan, I had always had my birthday dinner with my family on my actual birthday. If my birthday landed on a weekend, I would often spend most of the day with friends or the person I was dating. But, after that, I would always meet up with my family for a nice dinner at a restaurant.
Some people might find it strange that an adult in their twenties would go out of their way to do that when they could be partying with friends or a romantic partner. After all, it’s your birthday! Certainly, I agree with the fact that our birthdays are important, because if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be alive. But our birthdays aren’t really only about us, are they?
For me, it’s important to spend my birthday with my family because it was the day my mother brought me into to this world after going through not only 24 hours of pain and sweat, but a whole ordeal with complications even after my birth. My mother isn’t the type to constantly remind me, and honestly, it was most definitely not my fault, but it’s the undeniable truth that all the pain she had to through was because she had me.
On my birthday, I’m grateful to be alive. At the same time, I’m so grateful to my mother for not only giving birth to me, but also for raising me, feeding me, clothing me, caring for me, and most of all, loving me unconditionally. I’m so grateful she didn’t throw me out the window or leave me on the street when I was being a nasty little brat. Of course, I’m also grateful to my father for working hard to provide for the family all these years.
I’ve promised myself that I’d celebrate myself and my parents on my birthday, and that has become a tradition in my family. It’s not something I can do now that we’re an entire Pacific Ocean apart, but we still video chat on my birthday to make sure we feel connected. I also make sure to call them at midnight every year, no matter if I’m at my friends’ house partying away, or if I’m in Japan.
My family also has some interesting traditions, like my mom having “a day off” every week. This means my family eats out at least once a week, so that she doesn’t have to cook. I think until I was in middle school, that day would coincide with “family day,” which is a day my mom made my dad promise to stay with us instead of hanging out with his friends. My family would go out for brunch, then head to a nearby park to play, and go home to watch a rental movie or sing karaoke. Every two weeks or so, we’d release our pet budgies in the bathroom and let them fly around and bathe in the water. In retrospect, while it was routine, it really gave my brother and I the chance to bond with my dad because he used to have so many business trips and we would barely see him during the week. Those were some of the best memories I have of my childhood.
All in all, family traditions sometimes may appear mundane, and we may not appreciate them when we are kids. But they give us the time to bond and share some good times with our loved ones. If I ever have my own family, I’d like to pick and choose traditions I liked, and pass them on to future generations.
misconception (n) ? an idea that is wrong because it has been based on a failure to understand a situation
couldn’t be further from the truth (phr.) ? completely false
go out of one’s way (phr.) ? make a special effort to do something, especially for someone else
ordeal (n) ? a very unpleasant and prolonged experience
coincide (v) ? to occur at the same time
in retrospect (phr.) ? thinking now about something in the pa