Birthdays are a celebration of life. Are not birthdays a chance to truly be grateful for the blessings we have been given, another year of life and memories? These are coupled with the hope and promise of a better tomorrow.
My birthday came and went with no fanfare this year. It was overshadowed by so many other things on the agenda in my circle of family, friends, and work. On the actual day, I could count on one hand the number of times I even heard the words “Happy Birthday.” But inside I was indeed celebrating being alive. Just one year ago I was flat on my back, sicker than I ever thought a human being could be from chemo drugs being poured into my body through infusions. A breath of life is precious, good health is even better!
So it was with great surprise that a week or so after my birthday, a small circle of friends gathered to celebrate it with style. I was expecting a small brunch and instead had a feast of food, a gorgeous elegantly decorated restaurant, and a table full of love so strong I could feel the warmth from the outside in. Being there, with all of them was enough to make me feel special, blessed, and loved.
They were not satisfied with that though, no, they had bigger plans in store for me. I was given packages to nourish my spirit and remind me indeed that my birthday was not just another day to any of them. It was a true celebration of my life and our friendships! One of dear friends even had a homemade birthday cake decorated by her teen-age daughter. I admired the artwork on the cake and then noted that she had inscribed my childhood name on it, Ronni, as if to signify the celebration of all of me, the child in me and the woman I am today.
I wore a scarf on my head that day to this party. One friend had reminded me, a few days prior that just a year ago, the most color I had in my life was my scarves of many colors. My choices, on a daily basis, were limited to which one I would wear. In honor to myself of how far I had come and the road cancer had taken me, I wore a scarf, which is my personal badge of courage. It represented my reality. Cancer is a struggle, one that leaves you on the outside looking not all that different and on the inside, forever changed. My scarf was worn in recognition of it.
As I glanced around the restaurant, the twinkling lights of Christmas decorations were all around me. I thought what a stark contrast this was to the previous year’s birthday, which frankly, due to chemotherapy drugs, I have no recollection of the day! I thought about the birthday to come, Jesus and how His birthday was so meager, no fanfare, no balloons, no twinkling Christmas lights. There was only one bright star above a manager for those that bothered to look up to see. I then began to think of the joy inside that Joseph and Mary must have felt looking down on the new baby son, the promise and hope He would bring to the world. They knew that their son was someone very special that would forever change all the birthdays to come. Somehow, when I think of this Birthday, Jesus’s birthday, mine seems small in comparison.
Each year we honor His birth, Jesus, son of God’s birthday, with a celebration unlike that very first day He was born on this Earth all those years ago. We lift up our voices in song and open our heart to His everlasting love. May you, this year, Christmas Day, rejoice that His Life, His Birthday has given you the keys to heaven if you simply follow His word.