One of my fondest memories growing up is celebrating birthdays at my grandmother’s house. She knew how to celebrate! The birthday child or adult would stay in bed while the rest of the family made breakfast in the kitchen and together carried it up the stairs to the bedroom where they entered (supposedly awaking the celebrant) singing “Happy Birthday to you!”
There was a gift of a plain brown paper grocery bag which held pennies – one for each year. And yes, we always counted to be sure there were the right number!
Of the 365 days in the year, not many are special. Birthdays are special. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated. Birthdays mark the gift of years of life, and no matter how old we are, it is good to celebrate. (Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook whose husband died unexpectedly last year, wrote a poignant post about the meaning of birthdays and the importance of appreciating and celebrating life whether we feel like it or not! You can read it here. )
Every month, at Good Shepherd’s ministry for seniors called Young in Heart, we celebrate birthdays. In November we sang “Happy Birthday” to Juanita as she blew out a candle on a special cupcake in her honor.
Juanita is 92 and lives alone. Her birthday was in October but she wasn’t able to be at that particular Young in Heart gathering. I wish you could have been present in November to see the delight on her face and hear her say, “I didn’t know if I would get a cupcake! I did!”
At Young in Heart, we celebrate birthdays. It’s not the least of things we do.