I remember when birthdays were different. When birthday greeting cards arrived in the mail, from family and friends. A check (or even cash) might be tucked inside from your grandparents or your parents. If you were really lucky, your mom went to a real store and bought you a present that she took home, wrapped, boxed and took to the post office herself. I remember when flowers were delivered by the neighborhood florist because someone loved you enough to call the florist or stop by and place the order. I remember when we might go to a restaurant where someone would tell the waiter it was your birthday, and the waitstaff would come out wearing sombreros and sing to you. Birthdays are a whole lot different now.
Google celebrates your birthday by creating a doodle just for you (and anyone else who shares your birthday) if you've entered your birthday information in your Google profile.
There are sites that change the design of your account to special birthday-flavored wall paper. Social media sites send you birthday newsletters inviting you to log in and see the special birthday greeting created "just for you." (I know these things because last October, I received several of these types of emails -- often from sites I'd forgotten I had joined.)
You probably don't get many greeting cards in your mailbox. Instead your friends and family fill your Facebook wall and Twitter stream with birthday greetings. And if your mom sends you a present, odds are high that she didn't go to a store to buy it. If you do get a greeting card in the mail, you probably won't find a check (or cash!) inside but will find a gift card, instead.
And if your inbox looks anything like mine, you'll find dozens of retailers who want to celebrate your birthday with you. They send you special birthday greetings inviting you to buy yourself a gift, or flowers, or take yourself on a vacation. Here are some of the retailers who sent me Happy Birthday greetings last October:
- Starbucks reminded me that I was special and they were treating me to a favorite drink - my treat card would arrive in the mail soon. (Oddly enough, my treat card arrived before this special email did.)
- Crayola thought my birthday would be extra special with some new Crayola products, though they didn't give me any coupons or discounts on those cool products.
- Pro-flowers and 1-800-Flowers both reminded me that I should treat myself with flowers (something I generally agree with) and provided me with a discount code so I could do that very thing.
- Aveda sent me a free gift offer.
- My local Ace Hardware sent me a coupon for 10% off any purchase during my birthday month.
That's a lot of birthday email and those are only the ones I can remember -- there were more, many more.
I can't decide if I like the way we celebrate birthdays better or worse. I like my free drink from Starbucks. I like the birthday greetings on my Facebook wall. I even like that shopping for birthday gifts is easier now. But sometimes I think it would be nice to go back to the good old days because it's just no fun to spend your birthday cleaning out your inbox.
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