Continuing on the theme of "common social situations that my brain doesn't deal with in anything approaching a normal fashion": I was talking with some friends about birthdays this afternoon. Here is a list of things that I enjoy on my birthday:

  1. Being wished happy birthday.
  2. Having somebody else make slightly better food than normal, especially if it involves good chocolate.
  3. Any sort of social interaction that I would enjoy on any other day.

The third of those is by far the most important. And here is a list of things that I don't enjoy on my birthday:

  1. Spending time with large groups of people.
  2. The vast majority of non-edible presents.
  3. Having social interactions that I might enjoy if they happened as a matter of course but where the birthday is an outlier.

There are a few things going on here. One is that I, in general, actively dislike parties. Two is that, in general, my life is a quite happy one (despite the at times morose tone of this particular blog!); and, while there are always ways to improve that, restricting improvements to birthdays seems bizarre. So: if I enjoy spending time with you in some context and we do that regularly, great! Whereas if I don't enjoy spending time with you in some context, then why would I want to do so on my birthday of all times? (And the context there is key: there are lots of people that I enjoy spending time with in small groups but whose presence isn't enough to quell my strong desire to flee from large groups.)

And if I would enjoy spending time with you in some context but we don't do that regularly, then I'm happy to have a birthday be an excuse for fixing that! But the downside there is that if the birthday really is a noticeable outlier, then that will be as likely to make me feel mildly depressed as anything else: it would leave me wondering what's going on the rest of the time. (Don't get me wrong, that last situation is quite rare.)

Side notes: yes, I am aware that birthday celebrations aren't all about the person whose birthday it is, and I don't incorporate that enough into my analysis. And one of the many reasons why I am very lucky to be married to Liesl is that she is happily accepting of my several extreme quirks when it comes to holidays.