Who doesn’t love a birthday card? Something that says, hey, I’m glad you were born. Have this novelty card and a voucher for a weekend spa break!
Okay, maybe not the voucher…but it never hurts to drop a hint or two.
Friends come and go as we get older, and one minute, you’re all in the pub, living your best life with no thought to the future. The next, you’re at home with the kids, watching Miraculous for the fortieth time and hoping they don’t catch you in the cupboard stuffing your face with brownies.
As honest as my intentions are, I don’t always manage to keep in contact with people as much as I’d like.
Life gets in the way, and weekly catch-ups turn into yearly ones. The people you spent almost every day of your young life with you are relegated to the holidays and sometimes disappear completely.
So, when that time of year comes around, it’s nice to send a birthday card.
A note to say that even though my life has turned into the real-time version of Malcolm in the Middle, I still think of you and hope we manage to catch up before one of us dies of over-exposure to YouTube videos and Fortnite run-throughs.
The struggle is real.
But what if that person is an ex-friend?
What if this is someone you once shared a great bond with but no longer talk to?
Then I suppose the more appropriate question is, will it ruin their day if you do?
If the friendship ended catastrophically, then the obvious answer is probably not.
Reminders of unhappier times will only result in an upset for one or both parties. No one wants to remember something they can’t do anything about.
If you had an awful bust-up, is it fair to drag that up on their special day? I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie in situations like this. Let them celebrate their birthday
in peace and accept that not every friendship is meant to last forever.
After all, our friendships grow and expand as we do. Some friendships are ride or die. They’re the ones we carry throughout our lives – the ones that have that photo of you with the pencil-thin eyebrows that make you look permanently surprised. Upset these at your peril.
Some friends only stay for a season, a common interest, or a stage you’re going through. These tend to fall away as our lives move on, and they get forever relegated to the “oh yeah, I wonder what happened to them”, category.
Others wear crocs with socks – an unforgivable act and something that few friendships can survive. If this is you, get yourself a pair of flip-flops like the rest of us and throw those abominations away.
But what if this was an important friendship, one that came to an end through a minor fallout, or worse, a misunderstanding?
When it comes to situations like this, the answer isn’t always as obvious. Sometimes we miss the opportunity to say sorry or correct a mistake, and these things can haunt you for years after.
Time heals all wounds, Or so they say. Although, I’d like to argue that whoever came up with this saying has never been forced to wear a shell suit as a child – It’s okay, the therapy is going well.
But age and experience can give us perspective on things we may not have understood at the time.
Therefore, why not extend the olive branch and see what happens?
Maybe the other person has been wondering how to do the same. Speaking as someone in this exact situation myself, I think that if you’re feeling the need to reconnect, it could be just the thing they (and you) need the most.
When I was a teenager, I lived in a complex for kids without homes. Many of us came from difficult backgrounds. Therefore, the friendships we made during that time were the first real taste of family we’d ever had. I met this one girl, and we clicked immediately. We’d been through similar things and soon became inseparable.
Then we fell out over a stupid misunderstanding.
Neither of us knew how to fix it, so we didn’t speak for nearly a year. But then her birthday came around.
Being kids without a family network resulted in most special occasions being spent
alone. So, years ago, we all made a pact that we would always be there for each other on birthdays and Christmases, no matter what.
So, I sent my friend a card and a short birthday message. I expressed that I was sorry for the fallout, and that I’d love to reconnect.
I passed it to a mutual friend and waited for a response. A few days later, she called me from the train station. Things hadn’t been going so well, and she was about to leave town. I asked her to wait for me as I made my way to the station.
After a heartfelt talk, she came back to where I was living at the time and stayed with me until she got back on her feet. Those days were some of the best of my life. Now I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
Our children have grown up together and call each other cousins. I can’t think of a single-family holiday memory that doesn’t have her in it. To consider that I would’ve missed out on all of that if I hadn’t reached out and sent her that card just blows my mind.
Sometimes you’re supposed to walk away, and sometimes you’re meant to come back together.
So, if you’re not sure, I say, write the card. Send it and see. Life works in mysterious ways, and who knows what could happen. If you’re lucky, you may even find your family.