Cultural differences in celebrating birthdays

So many times, you never realize how different you are from other people until the difference smacks you in the face. Or in this case, smacks you on your phone bill.

birthdaysMy childhood family always celebrates birthdays with Hallmark or Dayspring cards and a birthday cake.

It seemed so normal that I just assumed everybody’s birthdays were celebrated the same way.

When I learned that my husband doesn’t send Hallmark or Dayspring cards to his parents for their birthdays, I was aghast. “But don’t they expect a card?” I sputtered.

He shook his head. “Nope. But I make sure to call them!”

In my family, a phone call is just not good enough. Even if you’re in a different city/state/country, you still need to send a card. (Or an e-card, for the younger generation.)

Then I had the experience of watching my husband-to-be’s birthday.

By the time I gave him a birthday card (this was early morning), he had already undergone 7 birthday phone calls, 20 Facebook wall posts and 50 texts. (I exaggerate … slightly. Not by much.)

That day he was literally bound to his phone. While he was attending classes, his phone lit up with texts. Walking on campus, he fielded off dozens of well-wishers calling from Africa. Even a private chat with one of his professors was interrupted when his phone started ringing. He told me he felt like a rock star!

So I began to adjust to a new mindset when it came to celebrating birthdays. Instead of scouring supermarket shelves for cards for my parents-in-law, I wrote down their birthdays on my calendar. Then we call them early in the morning because of time zone differences – when it’s morning here, it’s almost evening there.

When I last had a birthday, it’s now a constant reminder of my multicultural marriage. Before I married, I usually got a handful of well-wishers on my Facebook wall. Now the flood of good wishes and celebratory posts starts to flow in the day before my birthday.

Even when I’m at work, my phone lights up like a Christmas tree with texts and phone calls all the way from Africa. My international and long-distance rates explode. I feel like a rock star!

What’s the birthday tradition in your household?

About multiculturalmarriage

I'm glad to be part of a multicultural marriage! I grew up in the U.S. but am married to an African husband. This makes life challenging, creative and cool - all at the same time!
This entry was posted in Communicating/Relating techniques, Family matters, Ways of life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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