Help me write a birthday message!
November 13, 2010 5:16 PM   Subscribe

"You hate your life; happy birthday!" Help me compose a message for a friend in need.

This friend's birthday is today; I'll be seeing him tomorrow. Over the last two months his life has pretty much fallen apart. His long-term relationship ended abruptly, he droppd out of school, he moved in with my SO and I, is in a precarious financial situation, and anxiety/depression problems he had been pushing aside for years finally caught up to him. In the past week, he has been doing a bit better, but this is all going to involve a lot of work, obviously.

I'm writing him a card, but I'm coming up short with ways to tell him that I love him, that I wish him the best, and that I know he's strong enough to get through this. Everything I write comes out sappy or overly dramatic. Help me phrase this!
posted by OLechat to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yo friend,
I love you, man. Happy Birthday.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:18 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Something along the lines of "X years ago today, something happened I'm really grateful for; you were born! It's a joy to know you" or something like that? I know when I'm in the dumps, hearing that other people really enjoy the fact that I'm in the world makes me feel less isolated and more worthwhile than telling me more about me.
posted by The otter lady at 5:19 PM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Happy Birthday. May your next year bring better things."

"Happy Birthday. You've really impressed me with your resilience during this rough patch."
posted by gingerest at 5:22 PM on November 13, 2010

"Here are some things that kick ass: Chuck Norris, Islay Scotch, every album Bob Mould has ever been within ten feet of, and that Israeli fighting discipline where you get to jab your thumb into peoples' eye sockets. But you know what kicks the most ass of all? You. For being brave, for fighting through tough times with grace and dignity, for being an inspiration, but most of all, for being YOU... an awesome person whom I'm honored to call my friend. And, to reiterate, who kicks some serious, serious ass. Even more than the eyeball-gouging Hebraic death art. And that's saying something. I love you, bro."
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2010 [6 favorites]

It sounds like your actions are speaking way louder than anything you could fit onto a card. I would stick to "Happy Birthday, we love you." The rest, tell him.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2010 [6 favorites]

An old friend of mine that I am sadly no longer in touch with sent me a get well card for one of my birthdays.

It was one of the best birthday cards I have ever received.

Depending on your relationship and your friend's sense of humor, something along these lines may make him laugh.
posted by zizzle at 5:28 PM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'd like to respectfully disagree with gingerest's suggestions. Mostly because pointing out that right now is a shitty time wouldn't make it any less shitty for me. If it were me in a shitty patch, I'd love to hear "you're awesome" or "I love you, dude," or "you rock, let's party."

(I replaced "dude" for "man" because I'm a woman but you get it :)

Maybe you don't need to reference what he's going through right now? He's here too, he knows. Just let him know that you'd glad he's in your life, and...yay birthday!
posted by AlisonM at 6:02 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I usually write something along the lines of "Dear So-and-So, Thanks for being a really wonderful friend. I'm looking forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you! Love, i_am_a_fiesta". I think something like that is appropriate in this situation, too.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2010

Everyone should sign their cards with i_am_a_fiesta. I think I'll start doing that.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:45 PM on November 13, 2010 [5 favorites]

I thought Love_is_a_battlefield.

I think if you're close enough to someone to acknowledge that things are going rough for them, it's okay to simply and briefly acknowledge it, ex.

"I'm sorry that things have been so difficult for you in the past couple of months. Hang in there; I'm pulling for you."

But I would also agree with making the card generic and saving the heavy lifting for a face-to-face conversation
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:28 PM on November 13, 2010

If you need to refer to it all, I'd write something like:

"Happy Birthday to a Wonderful Friend.

May it be the start of a great year."

i.e. Accentuate the positiive, and hopes for the future.

In any case, it's probably better not to make a birthday a time for heavy conversations, more a cheerful respite from his troubles, as near as possible.
posted by philipy at 5:57 AM on November 14, 2010

I had a friend who was given this amazing card from her folks when she flunked her midterms: It was one of those singing cards, & it played Chumbawumba's "I get knocked down/and I get up again/they're never gonna keep me down/I get knocked down/and I get up again/they're never gonna keep..." over & over & over. Something along those lines might be appropriate: It acknowledges that times are hard, but offers encouragement, love & support at the same time. I thought it was such just such a thoughtful message.
posted by Ys at 5:58 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a friend whose sister died very suddenly about 2 weeks before my friend's birthday. I wrote in her card that year "Have a ________ birthday!" and told her to fill in the blank. If she wanted it to be happy, sad, angry, or shitty birthday, it was up to her. She got a good laugh out of it and said that she was going to try to be as happy as possible because she had good friends to help support her through a tough time.

(we also got her a male genitalia shaped bananas foster dessert which she equally appreciated. It took the pressure off of having a "normal" birthday celebration and the whole "make a wish" part of the night. We're a pretty irreverent group of friends, ymmv.)
posted by Hop123 at 8:39 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Hey, man. Even when everything is utterly ridiculous, it's still clear to me that you're a rock star. I'm lucky you're in my world. Happy birthday now and forever."
posted by lauranesson at 4:41 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

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