A friend asked me yesterday via Skype my thoughts on why we started celebrating birthdays in the first place.
There’s no mention of this kind of celebration anywhere in the Bible, so where, she mused, did it come from anyway?
I’m sure someone, somewhere who is burning with curiosity can consult with Mr. Google and discover the answer relatively quickly; I am not her. But her question got me thinking about the beautiful things in our lives like relationships and celebration.
Birthdays in our house are big deals. These days remind me of the beauty and wonder of new life as well as what is and the hopeful anticipation of what that life will hold, do, be. I hold so tightly to these celebrations of our births, guarding fiercely these days of joyful remembrance and hopeful anticipation, planning purposefully and lavishly for each one in our family. Birthday celebrations are reflections of the individual we’re celebrating that day, and we often go around the dinner table recalling a favorite memory with that person or our favorite thing about that person. Birthday celebrations often end in our home with a blessing for what’s to come. And every year (starting this one), I began writing in the children’s birthday books (created as a way to preserve memories and thoughts and all.the.feelings because cards get lost) about what we see in their lives, what we hope for their lives and what they’ve been in our lives.
As I reflected on these celebrations and why I hold them so closely, my mind went immediately to how God lavishes the best gifts in the world on us in the form of people. He’s done it in my own life with my family and circle of friends, and on a much grander scale by sending us Jesus, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of a baby boy, our Savior.
It is God’s way to celebrate life.
And so we do. We celebrate these lives we’re given in all of their beautiful messiness. We take the time at least once per year to honor the God who gave us these very unique lives because daily these lives bring something to the table — our dinner table, the lunch table at school, the tables at the coffee shop, the train tables at church — that wasn’t there before God made it so.
And this is so for everyone we encounter, so what if we encountered everyone with a spirit of celebration? What if we, instead of simply passing by, put to words the very things we see God doing in their lives? What if we began calling them by their very names and naming them as what they are — creations of God meant to do and be very specific, individual, beautiful people bringing much to each of their respective tables… including the tables at which we find ourselves sitting with them.
I think every relationship in which we commune might look pretty different, and I think each day of being in relationship with the people who sit at all of our respective tables might look at a whole lot more like a rebirth day than just any other day.
Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother.