The folks at Hallmark have missed out on this one. Thank goodness.
There are several “Hallmark holidays” e.g., Grandparents Day, Sweetest Day, and Boss’s Day…“holidays” that exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than in recognition of a traditional or historical event.
And then then is the “holiday” that I fell for a long, long time ago….something called “half-birthdays.”
If a nonmateralistic person like me can be scammed into observing a manufactured holiday, then it seems like Hallmark missed out on a potential market. Maybe I fell for it because I was a smitten softie, who might have had an ulterior motive or two for playing along? No matter…it is one of my favorite “holidays.”
It was late January. I had been dating my wife-to-be for only a couple of weeks. I was living in Cape Giradeau, in college at SEMO. Paula was living in Farmington. I called her to confirm our date for Saturday, Feb 2nd. We were on.
But then she asked “what are you going to give me to celebrate?” I was puzzled. Celebrate? For what? It was still a couple of weeks until Valentine’s Day.
I took a shot at what I thought must have been the reason for a gift in celebration: “Since when did people start getting presents on Groundhog Day?”
[Note: Groundhog Day was adopted in 1887. Hallmark Cards was founded in 1910. i.e., it is NOT a “Hallmark holiday.”]
“No, not that…silly. It’s my half-birthday!!” (She was an excitable girl…and I do have a fondness for the type.)
“Your what? Half-birthday?? You’re kidding, right?”
“No. My family always celebrated half-birthdays? You didn’t?” (Sounding incredulous…and empathetic for me and my deficient upbringing.)
“I never heard of such a thing. You’re teasing aren’t you?”
“I am not teasing!! Well, how old did you say you were when you were 6-and-a-half?”
“I said I was six. And I said that I was 6 until I had my seventh birthday.”
“I’m sorry. My family was so much fun. Never-mind about it though… What are we gonna do for fun this weekend?”
Well, needless to say, on that Saturday I took her a card and some flowers and some candy. (Ulterior motives, doncha know?) And ever since that time, we have celebrated “half birthdays.” There weren’t presents. But there was always a card, and something sweet….maybe a cake or pie, maybe a giant cookie, or maybe some candy.
In fact, there still is. I don’t send cards via snail mail, and I don’t send sweets, but Paula and both our kids (they all live in Floriduh) will get a “Happy half-birthday” text from me. And Shelly will get a card, and something sweet, as she did less than a month ago.
I admit it….I love this “half-birthday” stuff. I really love it, whether it’s mine on March 13 or Shelly’s….or one of my kids. I think it’s great when I get “happy half-birthday” messages or cards.
But I said it started as a scam, right? And was it ever!!
Long story short: I met my wife through her sister, Sharon. I had known her and her husband Tom for several years, had played lots of basketball with him, and had gone to the state tournament in Columbia with them a few times. I knew that Sharon came from a Catholic family, and assumed that she had several siblings…but I knew nothing about her family. And as much as I liked Sharon, I didn’t expect her to have a sister that I would find attractive.
Anyway, about a month after Groundhog Day, after my first-ever “half-birthday” celebration, I bumped into Sharon and Tom at a ball game. During a break in the action I said, “that half-birthday holiday that your family observes is pretty unusual.”
“Huh? What? I never heard of “half-birthdays.” Whatever are you talking about?”
Sharon had never heard of such a thing!? I had been duped.
Paula had scammed me. And I’m glad I fell for it, and that I continue to observe half-birthdays. Feel free to adopt it yourself. But please don’t let the people in KC know about it…