Un-birthdays, Mourn Days, and Getting Over Growing Up

Most people, after the age of 21, hate milestone birthdays. If you’re single these milestones often fill you with absolute dread. A validation of your inevitable old maid status.

A dear friend of mine was recently facing down this horror herself, and found she was ill-equipped to deal with confronting her 30th with grace and strength. There was too much she hadn’t done in her 20s, too much that was “pathetic” about her life as a 29 year-old.

Now, I love birthdays. I love all birthdays, but especially my own. I think that birthdays should have a special significance if you are single because it really is that one day out of the year that you have an “excuse” to celebrate and pamper you. Let’s face it, no one else is doing it the other 364. So when my friend confessed she was dreading her birthday I knew that I needed to take action. I needed to create a holiday.


Originally dubbed “Mourn Day,” the “Un-birthday” was born. It is the day in which you mourn over the preceding events of the year or years or decade or decades and reflect on the past, and then firmly put it behind you.

Rules of the Un-birthday:

When to celebrate your un-birthday: Your un-birthday is the eve of your birthday. You may selectively choose to celebrate your un-birthday as the seasons of your life have need for it.

The un-birthday may be celebrated in the days preceding your birthday as necessity or convenience allows. For some of the un-birthday activities, you may find it wise to space them apart from your actual birthday so as to avoid an ” un-birthday hangover” on your birthday.


Who to invite to your un-birthday: You may celebrate with friends or family or by yourself. It is strongly advised to celebrate with a small group of friends to experience the un-birthday atmosphere appropriately. It is, after all, a day of reflection.

What to wear to your un-birthday: black or whatever is your culturally accepted color of mourning. This would be a decent time to wear that wedding dress you bought on impulse and have not gotten a chance to try out. It is strongly encouraged that guests dress appropriately.

How to celebrate your un-birthday: The itinerary and length of an un-birthday may vary, but it should include these key elements:

  • Quick Food: Nothing should require work or effort. Dishes should be minimal, if non-existent. For my friend’s un-birthday we went with Ruffles chips and a canned french onion dip, frozen pizza with extra cheese, and store-bought cookies.
  • Strong drinks: Now is the time to try out that drink combination that’s probably terrible. Time and effort for this is allowed, but should be proportional to the alcoholic content. The more alcohol the more time is allowed in preparation. We went with a cocktail which combines gin and moonshine among other ingredients (recipe below).
  • Socially frowned upon activity: On an un-birthday you may very well feel like giving the world, your previous younger self, and all those people you hate the finger. There are small cathartic ways to do this. Remember, always be safe when using elements like fire, alcohol, toilet paper, recreational and legal drugs, dairy products, eggs, paint, sharp objects, and heavy objects. We went with smoking clove cigarettes on the porch. (GASP) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Your un-birthday list: This is vital. This is the list that itemizes your regrets of the past year/s/decade/s. What you put on the list is entirely your decision, but we discovered once you begin listing regrets candidly, you may be surprised at how many things you’re actually depressed about. Some helpful suggestions: not paying off your college tuition, not using your college degree, college, not getting married, rejecting that one person because they had “weird hands”, never learning how to swim, not being a morning person, hating kale, etc. Get creative, get specific, do it right.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • A lighter and a safe fire-proof container: After you have compiled your list you are allowed a moment or two, a shot or two, or a chugged beverage to think about this list, how much it sucks, and what a personal failure you consider yourself to be. Once you’ve really allowed the whole suckiness of aging to hit you, put the list in the fire-proof container, take out your lighter, and light the little bastard on fire. As you watch it turn to ashes remind yourself that what’s done is done. Have another drink, and get ready to party.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Laughter: You cannot close your un-birthday on sadness. This is strictly forbidden. Your un-birthday should end on a happy note. I suggest watching a comedy. We watched The Heat. If this movie is not for you, I can suggest a film upon request. There are also cat videos on youtube that knock my socks off. Just make sure you have a good, hearty, tears-to-the-eyes laugh.
  • Blood-letting: This is optional, I’m just still really pissed her cat clawed open my shoulder for no reason.

The point of an un-birthday is this: to encounter that which sucks, acknowledge it, and realize life isn’t crappy because you’re getting older. Life’s crappy because you’re afraid you’re doing it wrong and somehow failing miserably.

Remember, your birthday is a celebration, it’s a victory, it’s an achievement because despite the numerous times over the past year that you actually genuinely thought to yourself “I can’t do this” “I can’t make it” “I can’t go on” “This is too hard” you are still here. AND you can apparently still afford liquor, or at least afford friends that can afford liquor and either way, well done.

That’s pretty sweet sauce. On the birthday cake. Or on the side. We also recognize not everybody likes having sauce on their cake.

And here’s the drink that makes your un-birthday worth celebrating:

The Loretta Lynden

*note: Katrina and Jana are both from a small Star’s Hollow-size town in the very extreme corner of Northwest Washington state, thus the name of the drink.
Inspired by Loretta Lynn’s brief time in Northwest Washington, this drink which features blackberries native to the region, is named in her honor.

  • 12 oz tumbler
  • Gin (the cheaper the better): 2 oz
  • Blackberry Moonshine*: 1 oz
  • Lemon juice: A splash
  • Mint infused simple syrup*: A splash, or sweeten as required
  • Tonic water: Fill up the glass

* Easier option: regular moonshine and real blackberries smooshed with a spoon

* Easier and less time consuming option: rip apart mint leaves, add to glass, stir in honey

2 thoughts on “Un-birthdays, Mourn Days, and Getting Over Growing Up

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