Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is the second time me and my hubby have celebrated his birthday together, the first time here in China. I have a really nice memory of this day last year: we had been dating just a few months and I had no idea what to buy him (he’s that kind of man, if he needs something he’ll get it, has little need for gifts, very practical). So I bought a massive helium balloon and tried to make the most inventive meal I could with his favourite food, sweet potatoes. I made a delicious vegan chocolate cake and I relished drinking Schloer together, how great it was to find a boyfriend who like me had no interest in drinking. It went down really well, and despite my initial childish concerns that having a birthday so close to Christmas must suck a little (despite him not celebrating Christmas as he grew up), actually a birthday with a Christmas tree in the background is just beautiful.

Last year

Last year

So when my birthday rolled around, I thought I’d demonstrated perfectly well how I expect such occasions to be handled. We had not long arrived back in his hometown on Dalian, China and he had asked me what I wanted to do. I said he didn’t need make a special effort and we could just stay at home and relax. However, I guess I was telling a little fib and was hoping to be spoiled somewhat. True to my request, we pretty much did nothing that day, no present, no flowers, no chocolates, no romance… although he did give me a birthday card, the only greeting card I have received from him to this day!

I have come to the conclusion that this is a mix of both cultural reasons and general man reasons. Growing up I don’t think Chinese children get as much of a fuss as we do in the West. I’ve read that traditionally birthday and age milestones were only really celebrated by young babies and the older generation – which makes sense as reaching 70/80/90 and so on is really an achievement worth celebrating – and even usually only involving family. Probably following influence from the West, birthdays are celebrated more and more by people of all ages, but I gather presents are less important, with gift-giving reserved for Spring Festival, and symbolic gestures related to longevity are more common, like eating noodles that day. Birthday parties and presents for the happiness of the birthday child are still not that common, although birthday cakes are becoming popular.

The other reason I didn’t get quite the pampering I’d have liked is men will be men, and my hubby is not particularly sentimental/romantic. Oh well.

I have Chinese (girl)friends who demand ‘spontaneity’ and ‘romance’ from their other half on their birthdays, although when you think about it, there is little that spontaneous or romantic about roses and big teddy bears (too clichéd). After all, how can men live up to the expectations set for them in romantic comedy movies, especially Chinese teenage romantic comedy movies, which can be extra cheesy and over-sentimental to say the least!

Nevertheless, I love making people feel special on their birthday as I have always felt, so I will continue throwing everything I can at my husband’s birthdays – besides, it’s not just him who gets to eat the yummy (vegan) cake!

If you’re reading this, honey, (since R is the only one of my loved ones who knows this blog exists and may occasionally be popping in) 生日快乐!

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12 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Hubby!

  1. So far my wife has been terrible in trying to hide presents from/ giving me hints as I always knew what I will get. However this Christmas I still don’t know yet what I will get which is a real record for her:)
    I actually don’t know if birthdays are bot celebrated that much in Chiba as all Chinese friends I have celebrate theirs each year very well (compared to me who never celebrates the birthday…)

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  2. Yaaay! Happy birthday!

    I think that, with men, when you want something you have to say it bluntly. They don’t understand indirects. If you say you don’t want anything special, that is what he will understand. We girls can read between the lines but in general men cannot, haha.

    For my birthday and Valentine’s day my boyfriend always sends roses to my office and my female colleagues literally die of envy, hahaha. However I’m not very romantic so last time I told him to save the money as we were going to go abroad a few days after my birthday and the flowers would just dry at home with no one to see them!

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    • That’s totally true about the difference between men and women. Once I learned I simply had to ask clearly for what I wanted (since my husband is not a mindreader like many women) I basically always got what I wanted. My husband likes clarity too, because he enjoys making me happy and now he knows how :).

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  3. My boyfriend and I are born six days apart (I’m on the 14th of December and he’s on the 20th!). It’s actually super complicated since we both have to find a way to hide our gifts from each other all the time! And it doesn’t help that Christmas is just days later lol. My house looks like Santa’s workhouse now with all the gifts 😛 lol. I must admit, my boyfriend doesn’t place huge emphasis on birthdays and stuff, but I grew up also not making a huge fuss about them. But we decided we would give each other a gift for our birthdays and a gift for Christmas. 🙂 So I guess that’s a plus! On another note (which I find super sweet!), his mother who is obviously from an older generation decided to buy me a cake for my birthday! :0 My boyfriend kind of blew the surprise there :p lol. But I find it really sweet that, that’s her ‘gift’ for me! Since she knows how much I love Chinese-styled cakes!

    PS! Happy birthday for your hubby 🙂 I wish him many more!!

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  4. My boyfriend sounds very similar to yours! He’s impossible to buy for because he’s very fussy and if he needs something he’ll research it then buy it himself. So we usually celebrate birthdays now by going out for dinner together rather than presents.

    He told me Chinese families don’t celebrate birthdays or give gifts on special days. His mother usually tries to give us money or brings us “gifts” when she comes to visit, but practical stuff like cold medicine, goji berries or winter socks. When we visited NZ last year we bought gifts for his family, but again all practical things that they would use but wouldn’t be able to get in China. When we gave it to them they didn’t make a big fuss, it was just put away with barely a thank you, which is apparently the Chinese way.

    He did enjoy his first Xmas last year though, everyone opening gifts together & being surprised at what they were given. He was like a child sitting in his pjs in front of the tree surrounded by presents and wrapping paper.

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    • Yeah, I totally see your point about gifts, it’s always practical stuff, isn’t it! I’ve started thinking about what I can send to my in-laws from 春节 from the UK, as unfortunately I won’t be spending the first one with them since our wedding 😦 it needs to be a good gift!

      I love showing my husband British-style Christmas, I think this is one of the most special parts about a intercultural relationship! 🙂

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  5. My husband doesn’t like sweet things and just like yours, he’s very practical. If I know he likes something, I’ll make an effort to get it for his birthday, but this year, I’ve really been at a loss of what to give him.

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  6. Also celebrated my hubbie’s birthday this week. And he’s also the kind of man who buys stuff when he needs it, so we have just canceled gift-giving years ago :). We did celebrate by pampering ourselves at the local spa.

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