The case for having my birthday off

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I’m the chubby kid in the PC T-shirt, not the woman with the bangs, circa 1987.

grazianoI’m not supposed to be here. 

In March of 1975, in a Rhode Island hospital, I was born, six weeks premature with underdeveloped lungs and a bluish hue to my skin. 

In 1975, technology was not nearly what it is today, and the doctors told my parents to prepare for the worst as I baked in an incubator that helped me breathe. 

But I pulled through—obviously, seeing you’re reading this—and since my incubator days, I’ve developed a unique appreciation for my birthday.

As a child, my birthdays were a big deal. All my family gathered and sang to me—all of us sporting pointed paper hats with rubber band straps—as I’d hover over a cake, my chin inches from the candle flames as a stack of wrapped gifts waited to be ripped open. 

Some years later, my parents would take me and a few friends to some smoky candlepin bowling alley where we’d launch shot put-sized balls down lacquered lanes while some Charles Bukowski-looking characters sipped gin and tonics at the bar in the background. 

However, as I’ve gotten older, some of the joy of celebrating my dramatic comeback has subsided and—aside from a few rites of passages at the end of another decade of spinning around the sun—my birthday now goes largely unnoticed.

This needs to change. And not just for me. For everyone.    

Is it a preposterous proposition to suggest that every person get their birthday off when it happens to fall on a workday? Is it ridiculous to suggest that we should all have the option to relax and celebrate the day of our birth without repercussions from work if we so choose? 

I can almost imagine the Puritanical eye rolls at this suggestion. Here’s another lazy liberal looking for another handout at their employers’ expense, right?

Listen, I’m not looking for an excuse to be lazy. But, for the most part, people—particularly Americans—work entirely too much anyway.

And there is a humanistic aspect to my suggestion. Birthdays are more than just another day on some arbitrary Gregorian calendar. It’s a special day when a person should celebrate their own life, where they can appreciate the inexplicable gift we’ve all been granted.

For the soulless Scrooge only concerned with making money, practicalities and bottom lines, who believes that the more you work, the more virtuous you are, you can continue to do your thing. Work overtime on your birthday, if you’d like.

However, the option to have it off should be there.  

It just so happens that my birthday falls on Opening Day for baseball season this year—another day I’d like to propose as a holiday, but that’s just me being a baseball guy.

But before the Red Sox first pitch, I’m going to take some time to celebrate the fact that I survived that incubator and my lungs are just fine. After all, it’s my birthday, and we all deserve as much.

As the band Cracker sang in 1992, “Happy Birthday to Me.”


 

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com