• Leigh Gerstenberger

The Birthday Octave




Have you ever noticed that there are times throughout the year during which birthdays are more prevalent? We have a couple of “birthday seasons” in our household.


My birthday along with my son’s and son-in-law’s all take place during a three-week period from early June to the beginning of July. My mother, sister and father’s birthdays all occur during the month of August.


At the end of December, we celebrate my wife’s birthday followed by her brother, our grandson (who just turned two) and then his mother, our daughter-in-law, all again within a three-week period of time.


Now with five grandchildren and extended relations as our family continues to grow, it seems like we are celebrating someone’s birthday weekly.


Of course, it’s not the birthday we celebrate, it’s actually the person. Additionally, in our household we’ve adopted something we refer to as the “birthday octave” which ends up being a roughly eight-day period of time during which we celebrate each family member around the time of their actual birthday.


The “octave” as it were, has its roots in elementary school. If you’re like me perhaps you can recall bringing cupcakes to school for all your classmates on your birthday. Then there would be a neighborhood party for the kids on the block you lived on, followed by a family party where grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and other family relations would come together for yet another celebration.


Seldom were all these events on the same day. Usually they took place over the span of a week (or at least a weekend) so the celebration ended up being non-stop and sometimes lasted eight days, hence the “octave”.


Over the past year my family has been blessed to celebrate various mile markers….92, 70, 66, 56, 37, 36, 35, 30, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1. But after all, these are just numbers, what we’re really celebrating is the person regardless of their age.


All of which leads me to reflect on a routine from one of my favorite comics, the late George Carlin who did a bit on the aging process which is so poignant. Enjoy!

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