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Still Not Dead Day

February 18, 2024

You might remember me whining about Christmas and birthdays…perfunctory gift exchanges that proclaim thoughtful giving but mainly promote mercenary exchange. I have told my adults for YEARS that I don’t want gifts on those days.

That what I WANT is for them to take a day during the year… ANY day… and gather… sons and a daughter along with their immediate families only and spend some part of that day strengthening their bonds. Remembering me and their mom.

They have never really gotten the message. Never given me the only thing I have asked. It is a hurtful thought that the one thing I ask from them, essentially nothing, is too much and I have been at a loss because it is getting no closer to practice and there are now others determined to wear me down with insistence on tired traditions.

I have come up with a solution. A brand new personal holiday, You’re Still Not Dead Day. I believe it combines many features of other holidays/birthdays but focuses on what I want for my offspring. Compromise. Even better, it scales. From here on, to save typing, I’m just going to call it YSNDD.

YSNDD is intended mainly to replace birthdays. One approach might be to hold it on the Sunday closest to the birthday of the person being honored but any day (or any number of days) would work just as well. Every year, the day will feature a chocolate cake with chocolate butter-cream icing and a positive message…

“Happy You’re Still Not Dead Day”

(Note: The cake can be any flavor. Mine will be as described above. Chocolate cake is the ONLY thing I have ever really liked about birthdays.)

There are to be no gifts. There can be games if desired but the focus should be on the YSNDD person(s). Treat it like a salute, roast, or memorial. Either way, the goal is to enjoy time with the YSNDD person(s) when/whenever there is still time to enjoy together.

The song is a little different too:

Happy you’re still not dead
Happy you’re still not dead
Happy you’re still not dead day
Happy you’re still not dead.

No candles are allowed on the cake. If candles are important and everyone is OK with it, the YSNDD person(s), or even everyone in attendance, can just spit on the cake. (This has always been a sore spot about birthday cakes with me.)

There are some other really good parts. Birthdays have always just gone to waste after a person dies unless someone else happens to use them. YSNDD is a way to make honoring and remembering the YSNDD person(s) a day of fond remembrance. More than one person can celebrate the same YSNDD on any day. Even better, there can be more than just one in a year. OR a month. You can have as many YSND days as you like. The more the merrier. The more often the better. Think about it.

In my holiday, it truly is the thought that matters. ONLY the thought. The celebration does not have to stop when a person dies either. Then it would be ‘ONYD’ (OK, now you’re dead!). Adjust the song and the message on the cake accordingly. But it is still the thought and that is what is supposed to count, right? Everyone gathers to enjoy the person being honored. Remembered. On any convenient day. If the day is shared with other family members, that still seems to me to be a winner. Kind of like an annual wake. The goal is fond reminiscence and honor. Both are easily shared. Thoughts. The original intention to strengthen bonds and reminisce about good times is still honored. Family-focused.

This is not all that radical of an idea. Isn’t this very like what is already done on Christmas and Easter? You could even make a case for MLK and President’s Day, honoring people on days designated as birthdays. People even celebrate All Hallows Day (All Souls Day/Halloween). Some people favor this over many other holidays. It is similar.

You might be wondering what my wife and adults think about all of this. My wife is not enchanted with the idea but we’re making progress. My adults cringe but I think I’m winning them over too. Somehow, they know it is me. It is a day to get together. Like any party, birthday or otherwise, the focus is ostensibly on one person or group of people but that is not how parties work themselves out, right?

Am I irreverent? Unbelievably so, but I’m also serious here. I can tell you the people at Sam’s Club enjoyed our cake order. That is also part of the fun and I’m hoping it starts a groundswell. We need more opportunities to actually let people close to us know how we feel. Something not just perfunctory due to a chance conception date. Opportunities are totally in our control. Same motive, but a conscious choice, not an accidental calendar date.

We are ALL guilty of putting off the kind of days I’m proposing. Times to spend with people we SAY are important to us. Times which are not taken. Not taken often enough. Opportunities lost. This is an incredibly irreverent approach to a situation that deserves consideration. YSNDD celebrates the greatest reason to celebrate. I bet if Monty Python suggested it it would go viral. They are very close, if not over the line, in the way they include Graham Chapman’s ashes in some of their interviews. YSNDD is a way to celebrate the lives of people important (to us) while they are here to celebrate and to share them close in mind and heart when they are not.

I admit, I am unbelievably irreverent. I have to add, I’m rapidly getting older, but I’m Still Not Dead yet. There are a lot of us in that boat. A lot of people we cherish. I think this is a great idea to set aside one (or more) days a year to celebrate this happy condition together.


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