A writer for the Lumberjack's parents drove down to celebrate his birthday while maintaining respectful social distancing. | Photo by Walker B. True

Birthday Celebrations during Social Distancing

The pandemic forces people to re-imagine their birthday plans.
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The pandemic forces people to re-imagine their birthday plans

When it comes to a birthday, you’d expect a party, a night out, a small get together with friends and family, or maybe a chill day at home. Unfortunately, with social distancing still in order, celebrating alone is the closest option to a party.

Because social distancing is still in order, many have had to accept the fact that their big birthday plans aren’t going to happen anytime soon. Without the streamers and drinking games, people have found ways to remain somewhat festive on their special day. While some have taken to Zoom for video chat parties, others have spent their day with their fellow quarantine pals.

Tracy French’s, a Humboldt State University alumna from the geology department, birthday was on April 30. French celebrated it with her two good friends, who are also alumni, and have birthdays that same week.

“My birthday was on April 30,” French said. “It’s one day after a friend’s birthday, and the day before another friend’s birthday.”

The three had originally planned for a big get together, and reserved the Arcata Common Hall for a huge party. With entertainment and plenty of drinks to go around, it would’ve been one heck of a birthday bash.

“We were planning on getting a live band called ‘Old Dog’ at the Arcata Common Hall,” French said. “I went to Facebook and invited over 150 people, but that got cancelled.”

Instead, French spent her day enjoying the warm sun in her backyard along with her friends.

HSU psychology major, Shelley Magallanes, was hoping to have a night full of fun back home in Los Angeles for their 21st birthday. With social distancing likely to be in order, Magallanes had to cancel their original plans.

“Because I’m turning 21 I was planning to have a big thing with friends,” Magallanes said. “We’d go into LA and go clubbing.”

“I had plans to go to the bar with some pals on my 21st to see what it was all about. I had planned to have 30+ people invited to my birthday.”

Bryan Gambrel

Magallanes plans to return home around June, but with their big plans ruined by COVID-19 they’re preparing for the second best thing, spending it with the people they love most.

“I’ll probably end up spending it with my family,” Magallanes said. “Maybe go swimming and eat some cake.”

Bryan Gambrel, a junior at HSU, originally planned his celebration to be like any other 21st birthday, going out for a drink — legally.

“I had plans to go to the bar with some pals on my 21st to see what it was all about,” Gambrel said. “I had planned to have 30+ people invited to my birthday.”

Because of social distancing, going out was a no-go. Regardless, he was happy to celebrate his birthday with a small gathering of close friends and some quality-time with his mother.

“The most memorable thing was having my mom and I build a garden bed out of spare wood palettes I’ve collected. It was a fun, crafty project,” Gambrel said. “While it was much smaller than I was hoping for, it was very memorable.”

For those celebrating birthdays during this time, something as simple as a phone call or a video-chat can make all the difference. Drinking with roommates and creating fun games, or even sitting out on a nice sunny day can make this year’s birthday a bit more pleasant. No matter how you decide to celebrate, stay safe and it will definitely be a birthday to remember.

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