I am currently reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. (Yes, I know… I’m a nerd – haha). It will be the first time I have read the trilogy completely, though I am very familiar with the movies. Books are my first love when it comes to stories. This being said it is no surprise that I am quickly becoming a bigger fan of the books than the movies (don’t get me wrong, though…the movies are great). Anyway, I love the story as a whole, but also for smaller specifics of it. One of these specifics is the example of the hobbits’ approach to birthdays. This is brought to mind because of my recent birthday.

I should first explain though… It has always bothered me that a large number of people act very self-centered when it comes to their birthday. The constant use of the excuse “but it’s my birthday” is a good example. People that have to have everything their way and what they want just because they were born on that day irritate me. When it comes down to it, it just strikes me as very childish. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t have a problem with having a gathering to celebrate your birthday. I just don’t think the day has to be all about you.

Of course, as you all know, I tend to have an odd outlook on things. Growing up, my family wasn’t big on birthdays. We’d give birthday cards. On milestone birthdays, we might have a bigger gathering. Usually, we would just go out to eat as a family and the person whose birthday it was got to pick the place. It kept things simple. When I worked at the grocery store, people were frequently shocked when I worked on my birthday. I joked that it was the only want I could earn my birthday money. I know some people prefer to do more and maybe even have a party every year. That’s up to them. I’m just not big on it and don’t see it as necessary on a regular basis.

Personally, when my loved ones have a birthday, I like to show my appreciation for them and my thankfulness for having them in my life. I like to do something special for them, but I don’t restrict it to throwing a party. I like to give a card with a special message to them or cooking a special meal for them. I just think that birthdays have become another area where people have become too materialistic in their outlook of them. There are other ways of celebrating.

As an example, let me get back to the importance of the hobbits’ approach to me. Let me explain. My brother Chad was the one who brought it up to my attention. He loaned me his copy of The Fellowship to read about it. In the beginning of it, it is drawn to the attention of the reader by the occurrence of two main hobbit characters sharing a birthday. It is shown that the hobbits’ custom is for the person whose birthday it is to give gifts to others and to host a feast for their family and friends. It is so the person can enjoy their birthday, but also give back to others according to his or her ability for celebrating with them. I think that it is a very refreshing idea for birthdays that Tolkien puts forward in the legend of the hobbits. Because though hobbits are shown as somewhat simple in nature, it shows that they also have some truly honorable and good traits as you see throughout the book.

Again this is probably an odd thing to think of, but it has always struck me how self-centered people have become about their birthday at times. I guess that is where my odd outlook believes in needing to strike a balance. I believe in working for and enjoying what you have, but also providing charity to those who truly need help. Enjoying yourself without being self-centered is like finding the balance between cautious towards others and not developing a hard heart; it’s a very hard one to find, but should always be sought.