It can be a lot of fun to throw an over-the-top birthday celebration with clever decorations and Pinterest-y food. (Frankly, I LOVE those kind of parties). But as fun as those parties are, they aren’t required or necessary to make the day memorable. Whether it’s a picture perfect occasion with elaborate centerpieces or a family party with homemade cake and dollar store decorations–what really makes a birthday feel special is knowing that someone loved you enough to celebrate it.
There are a few birthdays that stand out in my childhood memories.
My 12th birthday. We had just moved to a new state. I had left my best friend, my school and my beautifully decorated bedroom. Now, we were living with relatives and my bedroom was the living room floor. My mom’s illness had been progressing. My best friend, who I had blissfully spent almost every nerdy day of 3rd through 5th grade with, had been replaced by a group of mall-shopping, makeup-wearing girls who made me stand out like the thick-glasses-wearing, still-playing-with-dolls, home-made-dress-wearing sore thumb that I was. I woke up that morning to my dad singing “Happy Birthday” in the dark. I rolled over on the brown living room carpet and saw my gift. It was new clothes, “wrapped” in a plastic shopping bag. My mom was in the hospital but she had made sure my dad shopped for me, and I was crazy about the new outfit that I just knew would help me fit in a little better in this scary new life. Later, I visited my mom at the hospital and she painted my nails. I almost didn’t get a cake that day. But when Grandma arrived home from work that evening, she took pity on me and showed me how to make a cake. It was yellow with chocolate frosting.
My 16th birthday. My mom was in the hospital but my dad still made the effort to celebrate the day. He took me on a date to my favorite restaurant at the time–Ruby’s on the Pier in Huntington Beach, California. Afterward, we walked around the beach town visiting tourist shops before going to the mall, where he bought me a sweater. My mom came home from the hospital that night. It was an awesome day that I will cherish forever.
Why do those birthdays in particular stand out to me? Because even though those times weren’t easy, my family still made an effort to show me that I mattered.
I suppose those memories are why birthdays and cakes and parties are such a big deal for me now. I remember what it was like to wake up on my birthday feeling sad and insecure, wondering if anyone would even know what day it was amidst all of the worry and chaos. And then, how happy I felt when I saw that not only did they care, they had gone to the effort of making it special for me!
Now that I’m a mother, one of my favorite things in the world is to celebrate my children’s birthdays. I want them to KNOW when they wake up on their birthday, that on the day they were born, the world became a better place.
That they are a life worth celebrating.
Shouldn’t every child know that? They should. But so many don’t.
I may have had hard moments in my life, but I never woke up on my birthday wondering why my parents threw me away. I may have wondered if I would have cake that day, but I never wondered if I would eat that day. At least I knew when my birthday was.
1. They are an amazing creation of God.
2. God created each of them on purpose.
3. The day they were born is a day worth celebrating.
With these thoughts in mind, I’m working on the next Coffee With Sprinkles project! There are a few details left to iron out, but I can tell you that it will be in 3 phases over the course of this year. In other words–it’s big!
And, just for fun, I’ll be doing a short series of birthday parties we’ve had. Don’t expect Martha Stewart, people, seriously. But you might get some fun ideas if you’re looking for inspiration. I may even get brave and post some very un-Pinterest-worthy failures. Be sure to check back soon. 🙂
Thanks for visiting today. And hey, if it’s your birthday–HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You matter.