Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. You can probably imagine my year’s of stress having to deal with my mom’s birthday and Mother’s day in the same week. Two presents, two cards, two dinners; two of whatever families do for mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day. I always felt bad for this kids–like Donna from Beverly Hills 90210–whose birthday’s were on Christmas. I wondered how they ever knew which gifts was for what.
My mom never had that problem. She has always treated her birthday like a national holiday. She doesn’t go to work, friends or family take her out to eat. It is her day! And those around her have always known to be very clear about which gift was for her birthday and which was for Mother’s Day. She took it easy on us though, she never cared much about Mother’s Day. Her birthday was the thing.
Not surprisingly, I have inherited her love for birthdays. And now with my wife and daughter, we celebrate birthdays with more excitement and fervor than any other holiday. Here’s kinda how I see it. Everyone celebrates Christmas, Father’s and Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc…. And while I know that people around the world share birthdates, there is something special in taking one day, while the rest of the world continues in its mindless hustle and bustle, to say to someone you love, “I celebrate you.”
What a wonderful gift to be able say, “you are special, not in the generic ‘everybody’s special’ sense but you are special to me. I choose to be in relationship with you. Your life makes my living better. I am grateful to God for the gift of you.”
It seems to me that there some kind of external pressure with national holidays, but celebrating birthdays seems to be more about personal privilege. The privilege it is to be in relationship with someone, to love someone uniquely, to say today is your day.
So it is in that spirit that I say to Gloria Palmer, “I love you” and “Happy Birthday.”