Birthdays are one of those days that we either anticipate, dread, or ignore, depending on our age. I remember when our sons were small, we made a big deal out of every birthday. Balloons and streamers filled the kitchen, a party was usually planned, and of course, the cake. When they were too young to decide, I decorated trains and Big Bird and various other patterns from formed cake pans. But then they grew old enough to request specifics. That's where my cake decorating skills shifted to Randy, my creative engineer, to draw the launching pad for the space shuttle or a road for a car, all in various colors.
Eventually, we deferred to the local bakeries when an ice cream cake was preferred over the typical box mix. But we did our best to make the day special, because really, it is! (Though I think the mom who gave birth ought to celebrate nearly as much as the birthday person, but that's another topic.)
Cakes or pies don't fill our celebrations these days. We opt for gifts sent long distance and a phone call or FaceTime. I kind of miss those balloon and streamer days.
When I was growing up, we didn't have parties for birthdays, except for one time I recall my mom inviting a number of young friends over to celebrate my Valentine birthday. I know there is a picture of it somewhere in this house, but don't ask me which box it might be buried in.
Most of the time I remember my dad always bought my mom flowers for Valentine's Day and flowers for me for being born that day. Later, when I left home and got married, Daddy always called to set that special date to take me out to lunch - just the two of us.
I think the one birthday lunch date that sticks most in my memory is the time we sat at a restaurant several years before he ended up in a nursing home. He took my hand in his stronger one and prayed for me. That was one special thing about my dad. He always prayed for his kids, his grandkids, and probably anyone else that came to mind. My mom still prays daily for her family.
I have other birthday memories, wonderful times with Randy and the boys. Like biblical feast days, birthdays centered around food and laughter and spending time together. (And presents!) I think that is why I always valued those moments. (For the time spent, not the presents.)
It's funny how time changes our perspective. I was twelve going on sixteen and sixteen going on twenty, until I reached twenty-nine and stopped counting. Daddy found birthdays fun when he began to turn our ages around. He would joke with the kids and say, "You're 10? That means you're only one!" And with the adults, "You're 45? That means your 54." He played that game the rest of his life. I don't think I would want him flipping my age today!
Truth is, birthdays just aren't what they used to be. I think that's because our expectations make them happy or sad. If we are pleased with how they turn out - the way we hope - then we're happy. If they don't, we'd prefer to pretend they didn't even happen. They are just another day.
And I wonder, how many of us feel a certain sense of loss with the passing of time? I expect as we get closer to the 100 mark, the excitement would build again. I remember my great aunt lived with the goal of reaching 90 - and she did. There is a certain sense of bragging rights that come with reaching those kinds of goals.
For me, I'm glad for each day God gives. I look back with gratitude for a dad (and mom too) who made my birthday special, who singled each of us out on that important day. I thank God for parents who prayed because I certainly need it. And I'm grateful for the best husband and best kids ever and for the rest of my family and friends who call and remember and laugh and feast with me!
I might not eat cakes anymore, but I don't think I want to dread this day. Anticipate? Probably not. Ignore? No. I would rather acknowledge that the God who made me chose to put me here on this earth on this date and even if no one else does, He sings over me. (Zephaniah 3:17) And who knows? Maybe He and Daddy are singing Happy Birthday from heaven. :)
I should probably have written about love and Valentine's Day because they're important too. And I'm very grateful for all of the love in my life. But it's kind of special having a Valentine birthday - and sharing it with you here!
Until the next time~