Not all birthdays are happy - the loneliest birthday taught me gratitude

Not all birthdays are happy - the loneliest birthday taught me gratitude

A filmmaker discovers that his friend receives little attention from his parents, and he realises we should never take things for granted


A scene from the video A Thousand Words by Jason Wong shows that cards or messages are no replacement for talking to people.

Julian stays at home alone on his birthday. He receives a generic birthday card, watches boring TV programmes and plays the piano to nobody. When his father does come home, all the boy receives is a 100-dollar note. Julian realises that there would be no greater happiness than being able to chat with his father.

As Unicef puts it, children start life as totally dependent beings. They must rely on adults for nurture and guidance to grow towards independence. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment where my voice has always been heard and respected. Therefore, the struggle of a neglected person had never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until I found out about the situation of my friend that I started to compose this video story.

My friend, who has always encouraged me to hang out with him, seems an outgoing figure. I did not know that his parents work day and night and never have the chance to talk to him. It is as if he has no family. And as a friend, I never took the initiative to care more. How the world has not fallen apart for him is beyond my understanding.

I was saddened by the fact that even when our communications are so advanced, these barriers to closer relationships still exist. It is too easy for us to dismiss the importance of communication when we are so focused on ourselves. If there is anything I can do, it is to tell my friend’s story and ask the world for its attention. I would love for his family obstacles to be overcome. My video is dedicated to him and all the others wanting their parents back.

The incident has led me to value my luck in receiving love and care, and I am grateful for everyone I have encountered. These gifts can come and go. It is important that we share them with others.

Unicef HK’s “Make A Video” competition gives young people a chance to express themselves through video. The project is co-organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre’s IVFA, with support from Hang Seng Bank and Young Post. Check out the videos here. Email your feedback to

Edited by Pete Spurrier

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Julian’s lonely birthday


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