Birthdays in times of Corona

No one visiting you, no super fun parties and no three kisses on the cheek. Whoever has his birthday in these weeks of self-isolation, keeping one-and-a-half-meter distance and social distancing, has little to celebrate. Four Windesheim students talk about their recent birthdays. “I gulped down a couple of drinks together with my dad and little brother.”

Lisanne Wolbrink, a Nursing student, celebrated her 25th birthday last week. Usually, she celebrates her birthdays with many people coming over, this year it was just her parents and mother-in-law. She had to call off the other visitors. “Or they cancelled themselves due to cold symptoms.” The beautiful birthday gift she received from her boyfriend (a visit to a musical with a night’s stay in a hotel) went down the drain.

Because she turned 25, a special milestone, she planned to celebrate bigger than usual. “With music, food, drinks and of course a lot of cake. Because many family members and friends visiting make the day a special one. I’m really bummed out that I can’t celebrate my birthday the way I’m used to.”

But having your birthday in this age of corona does have its upsides, Lisanne noticed. It seemed like people were giving their all to make it one amazing day. She got many birthday-wishes, of course mostly digitally: “Via Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat, from home and abroad.”

“Friends from school had made a video for me, with lots of pictures, to replace decorations or a small celebration in the classroom. And my boyfriend had decorated our apartment with garlands and signs with the number 25 on them. I also received cards, chocolate and a balloon via the mail. My parents gave me a ring and a bracelet, which are much more valuable now because you see each other so little.”

Lisanne: “It did feel like it was my birthday, but I did really miss my family and friends. That’s why I’m going to celebrate it again with them. Later, when the corona-crisis is over.”

Demi Houtveen, a Marketing student, celebrated her birthday as well. At the start of this week, she blew out twenty candles. But she only partly feels like the birthday girl: “It’s a pity I can’t really celebrate my birthday right now.”

She lives with her parents. “I got a nice birthday breakfast, the house was decorated and there was cake. It felt a little like I had a birthday this way.” Two of her friends visited during the afternoon. A strange moment for Demi. “Usually you give each other a hug, but that was out of the question now obviously.”

There still was a small party in the evening. Demi: “We enjoyed gourmet (a typical Dutch meal for which each has his own miniature grill on the table). And we had a couple of drinks with the family. Together with my father and brother, we gulped down some Flugels (tiny bottles of alcohol you drink as a shot).”

The real party will come eventually, says Demi. “I always throw a large party in May, together with a friend who has her birthday then. So I am used to celebrating my birthday later.”

Teacher Education in Physical Education student Maarten Tomassen turned 22 last Monday. “My birthday was, of course, different than usual. All the birthday wishes were given online and no friends or family came to visit.” He did share a couple of beers with his friends through WhatsApp video calling. “A fine alternative, but it’s still a lot more fun to have a beer in real life.”

Maarten had big plans for his birthday. “I was going to celebrate it in Málaga. Unfortunately, this trip was cancelled due to the virus. I still hope to get back the money from the flight tickets, that would be a great gift”, he said as he winked. “It’s a shame that it’s cancelled for now, but I’m sure I will still go to Málaga when this crisis is over.”

“I thought my birthday was a lot less important, now in this corona crisis. This hits all of us. Of course, you should celebrate your birthday, but I still had the crisis in the back of my mind.”

Lieke Schoonhoven, student Industrial Design Engineering, turned 19 years old two weeks ago. She thought it was weird to have a birthday. “No one could visit, while normally the living room would be full of people. That wasn’t possible now.”

“I celebrated by calling a couple of friends and I got many birthday-wishes through WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. I also spent time with my boyfriend and my family, who I live with, and made pizzas together. It was very nice, but also very different.” (WvE)

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