Whoosh, out goes the candles—be it one or one hundred. Applause echoes, and wide smiles as well as vibrant laughter from those around reveals how strenuous and awkward it is to blow out candles. Nevertheless, tasty cake and anticipated presents almost always decorate such a wonderful occasion. A happy face and a good mood are reactions expected from the person celebrating the birthday, yet this is not always the case. Genuine happiness depends on viewing the glass of our lives half empty or half full. We can be like:
“Oh my, it’s my birthday! I’m a year older, oh yeah.”
“Oh my, it’s my birthday. I’m a year older, oh no!!!”
Our choice of the two responses weighs heavily on our age. The first expression above normally follows the first couple years of our lives. During this time, it’s all about the gifts we receive, the size, type, and quantity.
In our childhood years, it’s about getting our favorite toys and eating as much birthday cake as we can get away with. The teenage years follow in short pursuit accompanied by various obsessions such as totally ensuring that all the cool kids get invited to our party, and finding the right shoes to match that wicked awesome dress, or the right shirt to match that “swaggerific” Jordan sneaker. The clumsy happy-dance marks the moment we discovered our birthday present is what we’ve always wanted—which is usually something like a smart phone, a laptop, or some other materialistic thing. Finally, joy comes from just knowing that we are one year closer to adulthood.
Before we realize, we’re closing the door to the teen years as adulthood is forcing its way through the window. We may casually embrace birthdays in the early twenties; a little wild partying here and there and spontaneous shopping sprees. We boldly showcase our age on cakes, T-shirts, party hats, and banners. Then in walks the years of late-thirties, hold the hand of mid-forties, who in turn is dragging early-fifties.
It is during these birthdays we employ the second statement above.
Late thirties and onwards are the years when we dread birthday parties because they act as showcases presenting us as “ancient artifacts.” They sometimes remind us of those things we haven’t accomplished as yet. Our birthday cakes no longer have candles—there’s not enough space for them anyways—and we hope our present is one less gray hair, a day free from arthritis pain, or a magic cream that firms sagging body parts!
OK, so my take on birthdays may not reflect you…that’s fine. You love all your birthdays and you’re embracing old age…great. You age with grace and you’re proud to say how old you are…awesome. But for the rest of us who can relate to having minor hissy-fits about aging, read and smile. However, never forget Psalm 139:16, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Today is my birthday, what do you think—happy…or not???