Birthday Wishes · 1 November 2009

I always say that birthdays are just like any other day for me. It is a day when I get one year older than last year. Believe it or not, I sometimes even need to calculate how old I am. Sometimes I tell people the year I was born and let other people do the math. Then I do not need to remember my age. Regardless of what importance I place on my own birthday, it was really great this year to have so many people wish me a happy birthday.

When I was growing up, my parents decided that they would celebrate the kids’ birthdays with a date night. They would take each kid out to do something special on his or her birthday. I am not sure how many years we did it but I remember it being a treat to just be with Mom and Dad for dinner and a movie or whatever special place I wanted to go. As we kids got older and moved from home, we tried to keep that tradition and take each other out or make a special dinner on each other’s birthdays. Because of this treatment, being together with family has always been the special part of my birthday experience. And having dinner with my family – eating a special meal and having dessert – is really all the special treatment I need for my birthday.

This year, I was not able to be home on my birthday, so we had a dinner and carved pumpkins the night before. We had a special dessert concocted by my wife and our oldest son, which we ate as we carved pumpkins into jack o’lanterns. Actually, we started carving our pumpkins and then took a break to sing “Happy Birthday” and have dessert. It was just what I like for my birthday. My family being a family.

At school, I am not used to lots of people wishing me, “Happy birthday.” Many of the staff do and our principal and I exchange birthday wishes since we have the same birthday. But most of my students usually do not even know it is my birthday because it is not that important to me to be recognized for turning another year older. I like to recognize my students when they have birthdays, but I downplay my own.

For some reason, this year I got lots of birthday wishes. Several students came up to me and said, “Happy birthday, Miyoshi.” And when one did several others chimed in too. One student who did not even have my class that day, came in just to tell me happy birthday. Our head secretary, Linda, gave me a cinnamon roll and my friend, Doug, dropped off some cupcakes to recognize my special day. To top it all off, two different Japanese classes came to sing to me. During my preparation period, the Japanese II class circled me at the computer and sang “Happy Birthday” in Japanese. Then a Japanese I class came in sixth period to sing even though they had only learned the song moments before. It was amazing and overwhelming. I was barely home with my family on my birthday, but I felt lots of love from my co-workers and students.

I also felt the love digitally. Friends, relatives, and former students wished me well on Facebook. I saw more “Happy Birthdays” online than I have ever seen before. And since people’s faces are connected to their profiles and posts, it was like seeing those people and hearing their voices as they wished me well on my day.

I probably will always downplay the importance of my own birthday. After all, it is just a day to mark the passing of another year. But I guess it is significant. As one of my students pointed out, “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most, live the longest.”

Thank you everybody who made my birthday special with your birthday wishes.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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