Many years ago, my mother, herself in her sixties, had a friend who was in her thirties. Her friend, of Japanese descent, told my mother that she celebrates her own birthday by giving flowers to her mother, because her mother was the one who gave birth to her on that date.
I asked my mother if she was telling me this because she thought it was something I (cough-cough) should do as well. My mother laughed. “Oh, no. We don’t do this,” she said. “Maybe it’s a Japanese thing?”
Years later, I became a mother myself. Every one of my children’s birthdays meant more to me than my own. Unlike them, I have a memory (a visceral one at that) of the original day, the day they were born. I remember it minute by minute. Both my kids' birthdays were the most monumental days in my life.
We don’t do the flowers thing, as my mother said. But I now get the wisdom of this tradition. Whether it was idiosyncratic or a cultural thing, it evokes a sense of awe.