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Small Wonders: Everybody likes birthdays

The first one came at 5 p.m. the day before: “Happy Birthday, mate! Go the Leos!”

David’s an Australian in Germany, which justifies his use of the word “mate,” and the fact that his birthday greeting hit me on Facebook before the actual day. It’s nice to know that someone across the pond was raising a pint toward a friend in the West.


There’s a notice on Facebook that lets everyone you are “friends” with know when it’s your birthday. And all day long you receive both simple and inventive birthday greetings from them. I’ve used it for close friends as well as those that I probably wouldn’t think to send a card to under other circumstances. With the click of a mouse and a few typed words, I feel like a good friend, or at least a better one than I’ve been in the past.

Puritans of the formal birthday wish would scoff at this virtual and insincere form of exchanging pleasantries. But for a guy who spends so much of his time alone staring at a computer, such “human” interaction is welcome.


Nick: “Happy Birthday Buddy.”

Dave: “Many happys on your special day.”

Lee: “Happy Birthday PC!!!”

And in keeping with this technological greeting, instead of replying to each and every one of these well-wishes with a written “thank you,” I chose to “Like” each of them with yet another easy click of the mouse. A button on Facebook allows you to express your appreciation for something by simply clicking “Like.”


This sends a response back to the sender letting them know that “Patrick Caneday likes this.” Think about what I’m saving in paper, fossil fuels and government overspending by merely clicking “Like” rather than sending real thank you cards in the mail. It’s my way of going green.

Justin: “Hey Birthday bud!! Hope all is well.” — Like

Allison: “happy happy birthday!!!” — Like

HaroldandBillie: “Aloha and Hau’oli l?? h??nau!!!” — Like


Besides people’s underuse of the comma and overuse of the exclamation mark, I wonder why so many of them are on Facebook during the workday. No wonder the economy is in the toilet. Even if they have a job, no one’s working.

I didn’t intend on really thinking about my birthday today, but with the constant stream of birthday wishes trickling in, it’s hard not to. It makes one reflect on the years past and put things into perspective.

Scott and Kiersten: “Hey neighbor! Happy Birthday! Let’s have a drink!” — Like

Chris: “Happy Birthday little bro! Hope you have a great day! I love you!” — Like

Melissa: “Happy Birthday Uncle Pat!!” — Like

I was talking to my sister, who is and always will be older than me. And we both agreed that we like getting older; that growing up is growing wiser by growing humbler. With each passing year, we learn that we really know less and less about the ways of the world. And that’s OK.

Robert: “Hey Pat! Happy Birthday buddy! I totally remembered ... don’t think Facebook told me either! :)” — Like

Pam: “You to birthday happy!” — Like

Somewhere during adolescence and young adulthood we create a facade for ourselves, an image we want those around us to see and believe. It’s the image of strength, confidence and being “in” on the secrets of this world. But with age comes a letting go of that pretense, bringing a peaceful liberation from the world’s distractions. If not gray hair, wrinkles and spontaneously achy body parts.

Amy: “Still younger than me. Bastard.” — Like

Julie: “May your Birthday be filled with the best crossword puzzles ever!” — Like

It doesn’t make the world easier to deal with. It simply means you create fewer dramas for yourself.

Melisa: “Happy Happy Day Patrick. Hope the year is filled with words :)” — Like

Robert: “Happy birthday, hope you had a wonderful day with the family.” — Like

I wouldn’t relive a day of my life, save my wedding day and the day each of my children were born. Those I try to relive every day.

Billie: “Wishing you the very best on the anniversary of the day you graced this planet with your presence. Oh, and thanks to your Mom & Dad. It couldn’t have happened without them!” — Like

Regrets? I’ve had a few. But, things are pretty great when I look at the big picture. It scares me to wonder what it would be like if I’d done anything different. Kind of like the “butterball effect.”

Carter: “I’m guessing there’s a birthday article coming to a newspaper near you. Happy birthday Mr. Caneday.” — Like

But the best wish came first thing in the morning when I climbed out of bed. Thing 1 and Thing 2 curled up with me on the couch, one under each arm. With their pungent, sweet morning breath, they each mumbled, “Happy birthday, Daddy,” rubbing sleep from their eyes.

Virtual is nice. Real life is irreplaceable.

The Wife: “Happy birthday, hubbie. I love you.”

Patrick Caneday really likes this.

PATRICK CANEDAY is playing ping-pong on his birthday present. He can be reached on Facebook, at and