You should reengage in them. Trust me, a simple "Please"+"Thank you"+smile combo can work wonders for (some) people. You don't have to spend money to make people happy.
I understand that. Today I held the door open for someone who was coming in right behind me. I've held the door open for men and women and children alike. Whenever someone holds the door open for me, I thank them. These are courtesies. Not celebrations.
One day last week I took off from work because my back was killing me and it was extremely difficult to get out of bed. Sometime around noon or so after I was able to work out the kinks and gets some Aleve in my system I went to the liquor store. The same store I always go to but normally I go in the evenings on my way home from work so there was a different person working the counter on day shift. He didn't know me and I didn't know him. So, he asked me for my ID. Which I didn't have on me. I have seen people get really pissed over being carded for cigarettes or alcohol. I've been on the other side of the counter. So when this man asked me for my ID I didn't get pissed or give him attitude or try to convince him that he should go ahead and sell me a bottle of hooche without showing my ID. He apologized to ME! I explained that wasn't necessary. I explained that it's not his fault I left my ID at home. I explained that I didn't blame him for doing his job and walked out empty handed with a smile. These are courtesies I extend to the people I meet on a day to day basis.
I know I don't have to spend money to show my appreciation for the people I love. One of the small, unplanned for things that I did for my oldest daughter when she was in first grade was to occasionally take her to someplace scenic that she had never been to before after I picked her up from school. There is a lot of beautiful scenery where I live. This was our special time together vs. just going home and plopping her in front of a TV and ignoring her. I spent time with her. It irks me that I am not in a position to be able to do the same for my other two girls so I try to make up for it in different ways for them.
I do what I can but I can't do everything. It would shock you if you knew how poor I actually am and so, it may come as a surprise when I tell you that even if I felt the need to spend money on people in order show my appreciation for them, I can't afford to actually do that. Only on special occasions. Like birthdays and Christmas. The rest of the time it's just food, family, exploration and common courtesy.
I still don't understand you objection to birthdays. Everything you have described can be done on top of, or in addition to, one special day a year set aside for someone special in your life. There are no rules when it comes to this sort of thing.