Today I found myself writing a thank you note to a donor, and instead of following my normal script, I started down a different path. Instead of the usual thanks, I explained that I celebrate each gift that comes across my desk; I celebrate ‘you’ – the donor.
And so, on this day of my birth, I think about celebration.
Since the death of my parents, birthdays are often hard. While others cheerfully greet me with a ‘happy birthday,’ I’ve had moments where internally I fought against the fact that my birthday didn’t feel happy. And I felt bad for feeling bad.
The reality is that each new year marks another year without them. It’s impossible not to count. This year, it’ll be 10 years without my parents. In just five more years it’ll mark a moment when I’ll have lived more of my life without them than with them.
And it’s not the anniversaries of their deaths that get me most: it’s the days that beg for celebration. Birthdays don’t exist without the people who brought you into this world…perhaps that is why each year when this day rolls around, I expect a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
Yesterday I caught a sideways glance at my husband, the light shining on his face as he worshipped God. He happened to laugh at something in the sermon that showed his joyful personality right as I snapped a photo. Today, that same personality sought to comfort me in the hard stuff, to celebrate me even when I didn’t feel like celebrating, and to cherish me for who I am. It’s in James that I am reminded that birthdays are happy because of the people by your side.
So, instead of celebrating me, I want to celebrate the amazing people who have birthed, nurtured, influenced, and guided me through the good and the bad days.
I want to celebrate the people who come around me now, kindly helping me to grow in my communication and in my relationships.
I want to celebrate those who encourage me to go above and beyond the bare minimum in my endeavors, including my full-time job and individual side-gigs.
I want to celebrate you, as you read this and care enough to share in these real moments.
Because it’s not the day that is worth celebrating, it’s not the number of candles, it’s not even me…instead it’s the amazing moments and inspiring people that have brought me to today.