31 October 2008

Reactions to Halloween and birthdays

Two old brothers live together, and one loves Halloween. He wants to buy out the candy store and greet all the neighborhood kids as they come by in their costumes. The other brother wants to turn the lights off, so no one will think they're home and ring their doorbell. The latter overrules the former, and the first brother has to be 'the creepy old man' walking by the elementary school yard just to get a glimpse of the festivities-- a far cry from interacting face-to-face and giving out candy to happy kids. Maybe these old men that some consider 'creepy' aren't actually creepy at all-- just lonely, wanting to share in some holiday fun and potentially living with a grumpy brother who wants to shut out the world.

This is a true story. The man who wanted to play for an evening was my father, who lives with my uncle in my grandparents' old house in a little cul-de-sac, and my heart cracks a bit just thinking about this again.

It makes me think of this quote by Charles R. Swindoll: "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." Or, as my generally happy friend, Faisal, says, "Even the crappy experiences are good, because they make for good stories."

So, it all comes full circle: I started this blog about death and now get to tie it all together with people's reactions to life and celebrating birth. Not a new birth this time, but the Halloween birthday of someone I love. :-)

I find people's reactions to birthdays fascinating. Some people don't tell anyone their birthday, and other people throw themselves a huge bash and invite everyone they know. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. To me, celebrating a birthday is saying we're glad that person is alive. So, those who hide their birthdays make me sad: are they not happy to be alive? Do they not think others are happy they're alive? (Or is it just that fixation with youth, which is a-whole-nother post? Maybe next time.)

What's your ideal birthday? Mine is really simple: hang out with my best friend, eat good food, laugh a lot, say cheers and eat some noodles to symbolize a long life. Maybe do something fun (go for a hike or a snorkel, walk around and explore some new city/country/part of town, or sit for hours enjoying afternoon tea...). Or not. And if the hanging out happens to occur in, say, a motu in Bora Bora, well, even better. Serendipity berries for myself on my big day. ;-)