Greatest birthday of all

Tales from the front pew

There’s something about birthdays that manage to evoke excitement and joy. At the risk of seeming blatantly un-materialistic, I’ll even go a step further and contend that the aforementioned excitement and joy are not related to parties, cake and presents. It’s more about a feeling.

I arrived at this conclusion fairly early on since my birthday falls 10 days before Christmas. The upside to this lies in the fact that December is a magical and lovely time of year.

Fluffy snow coats the ground, glowing multi-colored lights twinkle from homes and Salvation Army folks stand by their kettles, ringing bells and touching people’s hearts (and hopefully pockets) with charity and good will.

Of course, every upside has a downside.

Because it’s so close to Christmas, my birthday has always paled, celebration-wise. When I was growing up, my parents went all out for Christmas morning. Because of this, understandably enough, any birthday extravagances a scant week and a half prior simply wasn’t possible.

Please don’t get me wrong, I always received a perfectly adequate birthday present and I was quite appreciative. When I was a little girl, it would usually be a Barbie doll, and once I reached my “tween” years, I typically got record albums or clothes. It was lovely. It was fine. It just wasn’t spectacular.

My older sister, Debi, on the other hand, had the good sense to be born in early September when the birthday present pickins’ were a’plenty.

While I wasn’t a particularly spoiled child, I still couldn’t help noticing that big sis did way better than I in the present department.

Lest you think I exaggerate, allow me to illustrate.

I got a Barbie doll. Debi got a Barbie doll, Barbie Dream House and Barbie wardrobe with clothing articles such as the “summer fun” ensemble complete with tiny sunglasses, a miniature beach towel and little plastic flipflops for lounging poolside (by her Barbie Olympic-sized swimming pool, doncha know).

When we got older, I received a record album by my favorite singer. Debi received front-row concert tickets to see her favorite singer in person.

Then there was the year I turned 16 and got a skateboard, which was quite popular in the later ’70s.

When Debi had turned 16, she got wheels, too — a new car. To be honest, it wasn’t technically a “new” car, but it got her from one place to another, which was good enough at the time.

While I obviously noticed the difference between our birthday loot or, in my case, lack of loot, I still loved my birthday. The presents, it seemed, were not the most important aspect of the day. There was just something special about, well … feeling special. For 24 hours I walked on air, enjoying “my” day.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up with that special birthday feeling and carry it with me throughout the day. I suppose that wee bit of self-centeredness is not uncommon for most people.

As we look toward Christmas, we see a birthday that was neither common or self-centered. Our Lord’s birthday wasn’t about presents He received, but a present He gave — His love.

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