Forgotten birthdays

I was once very good at remembering the birthdays of my friends. Can still remember the birthdates of friends with whom I went to middle school! These days not so much.


This matters to me quite a lot because birthdays always seem so special. They're the single day in a year that a person's very existence might just be celebrated by those around them. Clearly this isn't true for everyone, but my family instilled this "birthdays are special" belief in me from the very beginning and I still believe it. My sister and I even jokingly refer to "the month of Melody" and "the month of Joy." She trained her college roommates very effectively and those who'd previously thought of birthdays as just another day soon crossed over to our way of thinking.

And so it affects me more than some to notice that I'm missing the birthdays of my friends. Today I was reminded that I've missed another one. Amber's birthday was this past Wednesday and while I knew it was coming up, it sailed right by me and I didn't even notice until reminded. I've missed Amber's birthday before. Year before last  was more shocking - I was truly stunned at what felt like the most blatant oversight a friend can commit. This time I'm chagrined, but there's a certain familiarity that takes the edge off the guilt. There's a little acceleration to my heartbeat in the instant I realize I've overlooked such. Guilt immediately floods my mind and yet I don't know what to say. It's my own fault. I'm responsible for my actions, my choices...even my forgotten information.

Why this happens is elusive, but there are clues: perhaps it really is because I'm getting older and am less likely to remember things that once came easily to my memory. Maybe it's because the older we get (related, but not in the "you're just getting old and forgetful" kind of way,) the more information we have to keep up with and our brains aren't accustomed to keeping all that stuff organized inside. I could just be slack, self-centered and inconsiderate of others. Who knows?  It's probably less important to know why it's happening than to find out what I'm going to do to make sure it stops happening.

The safety net that covered me for a large percentage of these dates was just removed. Working in an office with a lot of other people increases the likelihood that somebody else is goig to help you remember someone's special day. People all around you bring reminders that it's about time to celebrate with another little surprise party. (When, of course, the surprise would be if someone actually was forgotten, since there seemed to be a party every other day in that office, and we came to expect these celebrations.) I'm sure some of my other friends' birthdays have gone unnoticed is because they didn't work with me, and we no longer have regularly scheduled interactions with each other.

Since I left that job, several things have become most apprent to me. Today's "thing to consider" is that I am going to have to find a more reliable method of keeping up with important dates. Of course finding such a system will be a mere baby step toward accomplishing that goal. Just because you know how to organize important dates doesn't mean that you will.

My personal calendar offers many different ways to manage these dates. And increasingly I receive emails from old friends asking that I submit information to this or that online management system that lets them keep up with addresses and dates and numbers and such. So I know a good selection of methods are available.

My own problem lies less with the ability to find a reasonable system for organizing special dates, but rather in the follow-through. Like with many other "issues" in my life. Knowing what to do and doing what you know....it's miles and miles apart.

Meanwhile, my list of things to do increases daily and so if I don't hurry and write the "birthday issue" down, it's gonna' happen again. Guilt stinks.