And the winner is..................
All of them.
Is that cheating?
It never fails. It seems like every year I'm asked the question, "which one of your birthdays was the best the one?". Honestly, I can't really answer that question with absolute certainty. There are many birthdays that I don't even remember. There are others that I do recollect.
I remember my 10th birthday. I had 4 buddies spend the night. We ate pizza, stayed up late, played Excitebike on my Nintendo, battled the gridiron on my new electronic football game, and took turns passing gas in the face of the first one of my buddies to fall asleep.
I remember my 12th birthday. My parents rented out a room at Aladdin's Castle. It was the popular video arcade at the mall in Owensboro, Kentucky. Each one of my guests got 10 free tokens. I got like 50 free tokens. My wrist was tired from weilding the heck out of the Mortal Kombat joystick.
I remember my 16th birthday. My parents tried to surprise me. It sorta worked. Honestly, I just remember turning 16 more than anything! I was the youngest kid in my grade. I finally felt caught up to everyone else.
I remember my 21st birthday. My girlfriend....(now wife) tried to pull off a surprise party. Unfortunately, one of my buddies who was notorious for not keeping his mouth shut, ruined that one. The party was still a lot of fun, despite me finding out about it beforehand!
I remember my 22nd birthday. It was the first birthday in which I felt like an adult. Just minutes before I celebrated with Stephanie and my parents, I was cleaning hair out of the shower drains in the men's locker room at the Clarksville Athletic Club. Glamorous.
I remember my 30th! Stephanie again tried to surprise me. This time, it actually worked. It worked because she scheduled the party 2 weeks before my actual birth date. I didn't see it coming so early. I remember a friend from church was sent to be a distraction. He made up a story about believing in aliens and said he needed my counsel. I remember trying to rack my brain to come up with the best theological advice that I could. I was glad to find out he was faking, because there's no telling what kind of crazy advice I actually gave him.
I remember number 36. It was just last year. It was the first birthday I spent away from family. I was in the lovely country of Afghanistan. My battle buddy and I got smoothies and watched Mean Girls in the office.
Of course, I remember my 37th. Its today. I came home from PT. My wife and kids had decorated the house so nice with signs and streamers. I was also greeted to a lot of hugs and a hot breakfast.
I'm sure my mom will read this and likely be offended that I don't remember all the cool birthdays she planned for me as a kid. Its not that they weren't great. They were all great! Its just that they all have something in common which makes them not individually stand out. Trust me, I will probably be saddened too when my kids grow up and don't remember the hours I poured into creating treasure hunts, making signs and videos, and putting together birthday epicness.
However, I'm glad that they are growing up being surrounded on their birthdays by good people that love them.
That's what all my birthdays have had in common. God has blessed me to be surrounded by people that love me and that I love. I haven't had to spend one birthday alone. I've never had to wonder if there was actually someone out there that cares about me. Its always been evident.
I know this isn't true for everyone, but this leads me to be more diligent about celebrating the lives of the people around me. I will always try to make a big deal and make people feel special on their birthdays. Even though the Facebook wishes don't take much effort and leave you with a billion notifications, it still feels nice to be reminded that there are people out there that care.
I believe God wants us to show others that we do care. Its a big part of His design. So as we think about ways that we show love to other people, may we look at ways to celebrate them, be their fans, and build them up.
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor"