My husband and I experience our birthdays very differently. He is perfectly happy to have a quiet, reserved day, wanting to be acknowledged, but not wanting a lot of attention on him. I, on the other hand, love have a ton of attention on my birthday – songs, cake, cheers, you name it. So when my daughter insisted I wear a “It’s My Birthday!” sash yesterday, I only hesitated for a second. What was funny about the sash was the experience I had wearing it. The funniest reactions were probably at the bus stop. I think most of the kids must have parents more like my husband as they seemed surprised I was celebrating. But one kid in particular asked me, “So are you having a big party with your friends tonight?” When I replied I was not, her response was, “Yeah, I guess you’re too old, huh?”
It’s funny how a six-year old can make you question your life. I was suddenly wondering, “Should I have assembled a party? Should I have found other big ways to celebrate?” But as the evening closed yesterday, I reflected on what my day of celebration entailed: a breakfast, including eggs and coffee, my children proudly made by themselves; a lunch in the school cafeteria with my older daughter and her friends; an evening watching my younger daughter’s ballet class – an activity I cherished growing up; a surprise dinner by my husband, fully ready upon our return home; not to mention cards, cupcakes, and endless texts, calls, and social media messages. It wasn’t a party in the traditional sense, but it did feel like wonderful day of celebrating life – my life here and now.
In the last couple of weeks, I have administered last rites, conducted a funeral, spent several days with my dad who was in the hospital, talked to families dealing with crisis, consoled the bereaved, baptized a baby, and heard people’s life stories for the first time. When you are that deep in the reality of life, parties or treats no longer seem necessary. What suddenly becomes important are the ultimate things of life – breath, family, loved ones, intimacy, little life moments.
To help me keep celebrating, I invite you this week, to slow down and look at the blessings all around you. I know some of you are hurting, some of you are just trying to get by, and some of you don’t have that many stressors right now. Wherever you are, take a moment today to give thanks to God for all your bountiful blessings – big and very small. Each breath, each day, each year is a gift. Tell me where you are feeling grateful. I’d like to celebrate with you!