Whenever I hear the word “tradition” I see a Russian Jewish man scream the word “TRADITION” in unison with the chorus behind him. Yes I am talking about Fiddler on the Roof. That intro was irrelevant, but I’ve always wanted to start an essay with it so here we are. Traditions mean a lot to me, on a cultural and familial level. A lot of my memories revolve around celebratory traditions and such. Growing up in a (very) culturally Jewish household, I was exposed to many traditions, including a weirdly large amount that revolved around alcohol. These celebrations and traditions made me who I am – a lover of latkes, chocolate and presents. What is there to complain about? I could go on and on about Judaism and whatever, but considering today is my 20th birthday – I know, I’m like basically dying – I can only think of the tradition of celebrating birthdays.
At some point in the timeline that is my relatively perfect childhood/adolescence/living in my parents’ house, I spent many Saturday mornings watching ‘My Super Sweet Sixteen’ reruns on MTV. MSSS was one of the first ridiculously moronic, yet unyieldingly popular teenage girl reality television shows on MTV that I remember watching in the 2000’s. I was obsessed. Maybe it was because the theme song was by Hilary Duff. Maybe it was because everything was pink and sparkly. My undying love for My Super Sweet Sixteen was not because I wanted anything to do with those girls and their trashy behavior and bedazzled Range Rovers, but because it was hilarious. I sure wasn’t going to spend any of my birthdays complaining that Chris Brown couldn’t perform at my party or that my daddy bought me the wrong Range Rover, but it sure was entertaining to watch these crazies do it for me. They took something so simple and even wholesome and turned it into a shit show. Which made for great television, but it just made one point even more obvious to me – it’s just your birthday. And you’re only sixteen, ya little bitch!
I’ve always been a birthday hater. Admittedly, I’m a hater of a lot of things – ketchup, Pepsi, Adam Lambert – but I’m really not a big fan of my birthday in particular. I don’t know how this came about, but it did and yeah, deal. I love celebrating the births of my wonderful friends, but when it’s about me, I’m a big old sack of SAD. My birthday tradition usually involves crying myself to sleep. Why? I dunno. You can ask my teen hormones why last year I woke up on December 14th with mascara on my face and frosting in my hair.
Birthdays are often super hyped up and I think this is the main source of my birthday hate. There’s nothing wrong with making your birthday a freaking national holiday for the people in your life, but that’s not me. I like to keep it quiet, that’s my tradition. I don’t want Chris Brown to be my musical guest (mostly because he’s Chris Brown, but you get the idea). Being told by other people that your birthday is a big deal can be grueling sometimes, especially when you’re stubborn and bratty (like me.) That doesn’t mean I don’t love how so many of my friends are “really into birthdays” because I TOTALLY do. Their enthusiasm balances out the fact that I’m a total party pooper, but it doesn’t mean I’m inspired to throw out my personality. Traditions can be national or personal, and for me, birthday traditions are highly personal. So today I will eat a lot of cake with amazing people who make me happy, but I will probably also listen to Taylor Swift (who’s birthday is today as well) at 3am and cry. Because emotions, duh.