The grim weather finally made way for some sunshine yesterday. I cycled to work on dry trails in relatively warm temperatures. I left work a little early to watch my younger daughter, Emma, play her accordeon at a little concert here in Schönaich. She did very well (no, really – no mistakes). Afterwards the weather was still warm and as we’d had a good week at work I picked up some beers at the petrol station so that Ariane and I could enjoy a cold one in the garden before the sun disappeared. Lovely.
Later in the evening, Ariane suddenly remembered that it was my friend Alan’s birthday yesterday – and “we” had forgotten. I say we because I always forget birthdays (except for my immediate family) and have become completely reliant on Ariane remembering everything for me. There must have been a wrinkle in the space-time continuum or something last week because normally she is never a day late with her Birthday reminder. Like most German women, Ariane is a walking wikipedia of birthday dates.
Now even though Alan is certainly my best mate here in Germany, I suspect he is probably old enough to survive me remembering his birthday and sending him a text (classy, I know) one day later*. But over here people put great stock in congratulating you on your actual birthday. It used to be by phone which meant instead of having a party/drink in the evening you would usually be on phone having slightly stilted conversations all of which have essentially the same content. “So what are you doing this evening?” “Did you have a good day?” “Well, have a good evening and wishing you health and happiness for another year.” On the rare occasions that “we” would forget a birthday and it was too late to call, Ariane would feel terrible and ring up a day later apologising. These days it’s not so bad. If you forget or it gets too late to call, you can always send a quick text before the midnight deadline and just about get away with it.
Still, nothing beats actually getting a proper card though the post on your birthday (thanks Mum and Dad!). It’s a strange sign of the times that we hardly get any birthday cards from friends any more. Most of the cards come from businesses over here these days – the bank, the insurance company, the garage that fixed the car 9 years ago. All cards you could do without.
Even though my birthday isn’t for another couple of months I did receive an anniversary card yesterday. When I opened it, it was a card for a certain “Frau Maier” from my medical insurance company thanking her for being a customer for 50 years. I checked the envelope again, but it was clearly posted to me. I wonder if I am on their books as a 70+ year-old woman? I suppose that might explain why my premium went up last year. Mind you, the company also provides life insurance and the card did not specificy whether it was life or medical cover which had been paid for 50 years. I might send a card back saying Frau Maier has unfortunately passed away and attach my bank account details for the pay out.
P.S. Happy (belated) Birthday, Alan!