“By the way, you are twenty-something years old. It’s time to get over birthdays.”
Birthdays have always been important to me. I grew up in a family that is very pro-birthday. We’re big on cards, got the top rated cool stuff for presents, and just generally making the day special for the birthday person. Although birthdays don’t necessarily have to be an elaborate celebration, it’s nice to do something to celebrate the day. You get only one a year, so you might as well make the most of it.
Hearing Don’s negative attitude towards birthdays was disappointing, although not really so surprising. Growing up the way he did, I don’t expect that birthdays were a special or joyous occasion in his home. Once he got married though, I have no doubt that it was very different. I am certain that Betty and the children made a big deal about his birthday. And we saw that Don was a big part of Sally’s elaborate birthday celebration in Season 1, so evidently Don does think birthdays are worth celebrating for children. He just thinks adults should “get over it.”
But, when you have people that care about you, they will try to make the day special for you, no matter how old you are. Don probably had nice birthdays when he was married, but now that he’s living alone, it’s a different story. I don’t know what month his birthday is, or if it’s occurred yet in 1965. It’s not hard to picture it though. Don sitting alone in his dark apartment, drinking. Or maybe working late at the office. Possibly Roger would want to take him out for a drink–maybe Don would go, maybe he would make excuses. Besides Roger, does Don really have any friends? It doesn’t seem so.
It’s hard to say how much of his attitude is based on his current status and how much of it is based on his general views. Don avoids sentimentality when he can. We already know he doesn’t believe in mourning. He tried to get Betty to steer clear of it when it came to her parents, and I have full sympathy for her in that situation. (And I feel sorry for him.) How can someone who never knew his real mother and never loved the people who raised him (or got love from them) empathize with someone who truly misses her parents?
To bring it back to birthdays, he just doesn’t understand. He thinks birthdays are something adults should forget about, maybe even block it out. This type of thinking is sad. Celebrating a birthday means that you are taking a day to remember that yes, you are here. You are alive and your life has meaning. There are people who love you and want to acknowledge it. It doesn’t have to be a huge party, but I think for many of us, there is at least one person who calls us, or e-mails us, or buys us a present or a piece of cake, or takes us out for dinner or a drink. Someone who reminds us that we are special, and we should enjoy this.