Thursday 18th January, 2024

For anyone who knows me, I am a huge fan of birthdays. Always have been, and always will be. When I was at school, my friends used to joke that I was more excited about their birthdays than they were and if I'm honest, it was probably true. I cannot understand why anyone wouldn't be excited about their own birthday. In fact, when I was a child, if I couldn't sleep, my parents used to tell me to think about my birthday and without out fail, I would drift off into the happiest of slumbers.

This year I am turning 29 and my thirties are looming, which oddly, I'm not particularly concerned about the closer I get to them. (Although I do find it very rude when people continuously remind me ha!) Yet I do find the fact that it has been a whole decade since my teens rather alarming. Does anyone else still feel 18 until you meet an 18-year-old and suddenly realise you're definitely not 18 anymore? It's quite the wake-up call. Honestly, I simply do not know where the time has gone and it just seems to go by faster every year. My maths teacher husband tells me there's a scientific reason for that, but I can't remember what it is.

Over the years, the gifts I have desired have changed significantly. I don't know if it's a sign of responsibility or age but I am becoming more invested in the longevity of a gift, instead of having lots of presents. For example, I find myself wanting high-quality comfortable trainers over the latest brand or trend. Don't get me wrong, I still want them to look great but if they're pretty but uncomfortable then I'm not interested. I also hate a useless gift. I think most of us do, but I simply hate having another thing to find a place for. One year, I received fifteen bars of soap and aside from being concerned that it may be a comment on my cleanliness, I found it more of a burden to figure out what to do with the sheer number of them. Now, please don't misunderstand me, I am grateful for the gifts I am given, I understand what it is to consider long and hard over a gift for someone you love and I truly appreciate the thought and generosity. But I did receive more bars of soap than there were months in the year.

Another thing to know about me is that I cannot be trusted with gifts before the day of my birth. Mainly because I will open them as soon as I get them. I get too excited and I can't contain myself and before I know it, I'm like Monica Geller/Bing in the episode Friends where she opens all the wedding gifts after saying she'll only open one. Some will say it's a lack of self-control and they're probably right. I say I am just an enthusiastic enjoyer of birthdays. The other day my friend texted me to warn me a present would be arriving early and it's safe to say, it's already in use. Oops!?

Gift buying and giving is another thing I get extremely excited about. I love finding the perfect thing, wrapping it and then forcing everyone to go through the awkwardness of me excitedly watching them open it. Once, for my friend's 18th birthday, I individually wrapped 18 pairs of odd socks. It was incredible and created a memory I will keep until I die. Now, I understand gift buying for some is pure joy and for others, it's a traumatic and fear-inducing experience. Luckily for the latter, thingstogetme has a useful little tool for those who don't know what to buy. It is called the Inspiration Engine and you can input your gift recipient's interests, age and gender plus the type of occasion and it'll spit out a whole list of gift ideas to suit a variety of budgets! It takes all the guesswork out of gifting (and hopefully all of the stress!) Plus for the person who has everything, it can all create a unique wish list of things to ask others for. Honestly, what more could you want?

No matter how you feel about birthdays, I hope that you look forward to each new year with hope and joy. It's around my birthday I remind myself to be thankful that I'm still here and I had another lap around the sun. I'm ready for another one.

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