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Pick-your-own birthday

December 23, 2011

There’s that (every so slightly cliched) prayer- God grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept those I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

My grandfather’s birthday was on Christmas eve. After he moved to California his family would gather with him, amid the street decorations and excitement of the day, to wish him well. But after he died, we realised that his birth certificate said he was in fact born in February. I have no idea why he changed the month – the year is the same so he never pretended to be younger, but I like to think he preferred to celebrate being born amid the razmatazz of Christmas than the quiet contemplation of February. 

In Sri-Lanka, school children used to take sweets in for the whole class on their birthday. My birthday is in August and I complained the summer holidays meant I always missed out on this tradition. No problem, said my grandfather, we will pretend your birthday is in October and send you in with treats then. So we did. No one noticed, and even if they did. why would anyone complain about free chocolate? 

So I grew up with someone who believed you can change anything, even your horoscope, to bring good cheer and sweetness, to both your life and to others. It’s why I can’t quite give up on Sri-Lanka. I can’t accept that I was born in a place that I can’t go back to. I either have to adopt a new place to belong to, or change the one I already have. GIve me a while to figure out which one to do. 






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