Birthdays Along Give Gathering


Some people believe that birthdays are days that should be celebrated with great fanfare. I’ve never really been one of those people.

My feelings have nothing to do with aging, and little to do with being shy. Honestly, I’m not sure why I feel the way I do.

It might have something to do with the fact that there have been times in the past (before Mrs. J came along) where my birthday has passed with no acknowledgement, save for a phone call from Dave.

Couple that with the fact that my birthday falls on the May long weekend and you have yourself a winner…er…loser for attendance at events thrown on said weekend. It’s the first long weekend of the year, and people tend to be out of town. It’s just the luck of the draw.

So, over the years, I grew to expect nothing special for the anniversary of the day I was born.

Then Along Came…

Mrs. J is accustomed to spending a good week or so celebrating her birthday. While a grand fanfare is not demanded, she certainly enjoys spending her time enjoying spending her time.

I think the only thing she enjoys more than celebrating her birthday is lavishing her loved ones with the same treatment.

And so, my birthdays have been a little bit different for the last seven years.

I usually get two cards, one in the morning and one at night. Each one is carefully picked out and a beautiful message is usually contained within. Mrs. J also gets me very thoughtful gifts. Things that I could use, or that would mean something to me. Sometimes she even bends her rules slightly and gets me something practical that I desperately need.

We sometimes even get to leave the city. One of my birthdays was spent in Niagara Falls, another in Québec City.

So, while I don’t really expect a lot for my birthday, I certainly look forward to it. Even if we do nothing, I know that it will be a wonderful weekend with my wife.

Give the Gift of Gift

I mentioned that sometimes Mrs. J bends her rules and gives me a practical gift. To some this may be a bit disappointing, but I really appreciate it. Getting something practical enables me to spend my money on something else that I may want in the future.

Let’s face it. Practical certainly beats a weird surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, one should appreciate the gift-giving efforts. I’m sure, though, that each of you can think of a gift you have received that made absolutely no sense, as if it screamed I have no idea who you are, but here you go anyway.

This is why Dave and I have created the most efficient and fun gift-giving system.

We will each ask the other what we want for our birthday (or Christmas, for that matter). It’s usually something small, like a DVD or a CD. Then, we will also give something else that we feel the other would like. This way, we each get something we want, as well as a surprise.

This might sound odd to some of you. Perhaps even a bit mechanical. However, if you disagree, let me know when your birthday is and I’ll give you something you would never, ever need, use, or ask for.

For anyone curious about the treasures I got this year…

  • Books – J-Pod by Douglas Coupland, The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
  • DVDs – The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Cube, Cowbow Bebop Remix Volumes 3,5,6, Father of the Pride
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker
  • A 90 minute F/A 18 Hornet flight simulator experience
  • A cast-iron frying pan from Georgia for interior camping*
  • An assortment of fishing lures
  • A one-hour swimming lesson from a national-level Canadian athlete
  • A vintage camera
  • Gift Certificates – MEC, Canadian Tire
  • A boxed set of playing cards with a rulebook and notepad
  • Beef jerky from Chinatown
  • Various drinks – both at the bar, and a thoughtful 8-pack of beers from around the world delivered to my front door

You’re probably scratching your head, but these gifts all meant a lot. My friends are all very generous and wonderful people. Not to mention imaginative.

The Gathering

If anything, I like using my birthday as an excuse to bring together all of my different friends in one place.

I have a very wide variety of friends, most of whom would probably never meet each other under normal circumstances. However, I find that cross-pollinating the groups is a really great thing to do. You never know what sort of overlap you may find.

It was no different this year, when I invited a bunch of people to the Duke of York pub in the Yorkville neighbourhood. It’s a huge, traditional-looking place with lots of seating, a wide assortment of beers on tap, and good food.

I booked a table for twenty. I figured that it wouldn’t matter if we were short, because most places aren’t really busy during the long weekend, on account of people being out of town.

It was a great party. Lots of people came out for drinks. A number were unaware that it was my birthday **, but that didn’t matter. It was just an excuse to get together to have fun.

Everyone got along really well. Much better than I had hoped. Many connections were made, some that will last beyond the weekend. That was really the best gift of all.

I’m sure everyone has memories of Saturday night that they could post here. Shatton already did.

My favourite memory was at the end, when my friend Carlos was saying goodbye…

Carlos: You know, your friends are all really interesting and fun. They’re really great people.
Jorge: I know. That’s why you’re here, too.

Thanks again for a wonderful time, everyone! I know not everyone could make it***, but it was still a great evening!

* – Cooking a fish caught during the trip in anything less would be a sin.
** – This is completely fine. The last thing I wanted was for people to change plans on account of me. I also didn’t want people to think it was some kind of gift-grab.
*** – You know who you are. It was especially good to speak to some of you telephonically that day.

7 Responses

  1. Glad to hear that you had a good birthday, Jorge! You’ll have to let me know how J-Pod is… I heard Coupland reading from it a litle while back when he and Chuck Palahniuk did readings at UBC… my favourite part is when he read from the list of random numbers.

  2. You know we drank to you, my friend.

  3. I didn’t have a drink with you, nor one for you. But I was thinking of you on your birthday. That’ll have to do.


  4. Happy Birthday!! 🙂

    You got J-bot!! *grin* you {are} a geek… 😉


  5. It is so hard having a birthday near a holiday. I was born after Christmas and totally understand. Every year I get yelled at for not telling coworkers its my birthday, but I do love the special treatment I get from my friends & family. I also love to spoil my husband when its his birthday. Once I gave him a lunch to take to work that I think consisted of about 90% sugar.

  6. Great outing, great conversations and a lot of laughs, now I know where you get your sense of humour. Happy birthday

  7. Cheers to you on their birthday! Your kind (the kind that don’t really get into their birthdays) have always fascinated me. I’m more of the week-long birthday observer–maybe it’s a girl thing–and there’s nothing I love more than making each successive non-birthday-loving type’s birthday a bigger and bigger deal. Most of them take it well, some get annoyed.

    YOU got a cast-iron pan! Without a cast iron pan, there can be no cornbread, and without cornbread, there cannot be true happiness.

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