Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Greetings everybody!

I have much more to say about Ghana -- particularly Logba Tota -- but I'm taking a slightly different track today. :)

Guess what tomorrow is!?!?!

YES!!! Tomorrow's my birthday! And now you've discovered the "secret code" embedded in my email addresses! (silver829 and silver82956)

Leafing through some old black and white photographs, I saw:

**A chubby baby in a high chair grinning from behind chocolate cake crumbs; (next stop has to be the bathtub).

**Little girls in frilly dresses and pointed party-hats, watching their friend blow out the four candles atop her birthday cake.

**A group of little 7-year-olds girls sitting on concrete steps at the back door of a house, grinning at the camera.

**A teenager with wire-rimmed glasses triumphantly holding her drivers’ license.

Every photo is labeled on the back “August 29, 19—.”

My folks have always made a big deal over our birthdays. My sister and I each had a “special day” each year. Second only to Christmas, our birthdays were honored and celebrated! In this way, we both knew we were wanted, appreciated, and loved for being their daughters.

As I’ve grown up, birthdays have piled up. (Fifty-two, to be exact right now.) And every year, my mom & dad have celebrated with me. When I was turning 40, I began receiving anonymous cards every day the week before my birthday. Inside each card would be a handful of confetti. When I opened each card, the glittery “40’s” rained down into my lap – much to my delight! Weeks later, I discovered that my mom was the “secret admirer” who mailed them to me!

As a child, we’d enjoy the traditional ice cream and cake (with candles, of course!). My grandparents would come over and share in the celebration. Sometimes, I’d have a party with my friends. My biggest party was when I turned 7. My mom invited my cousins and a lot of the girls from my class at school. She planned several neat games for us to play. One game I recall involved a jar full of candies. We had to guess how many pieces were in the jar. I can’t remember who won the jar by guessing the closest – but I do remember thinking my mom was pretty smart to have a game like that! As a teen, I usually had one or two buddies spend the night. Regardless – it was always fun for me as a kid.

I tried to pass that same joy on to my kids. I remember parties we had with them when they were small. Slumber parties, girls giggling in the yard on a Slip-N-Slide, trips to the movies & out for pizza afterwards – and we ALWAYS had cake and ice cream, with grandparents and great-grandparents looking on with smiles on their faces. I knew just about enough cake decorating to be dangerous – and I remember making a Cookie Monster cake, and a cake that looked like a school bus, and even one that was supposed to look like a watermelon, complete with chocolate chip “seeds”! I had a lot of fun – and I believe my kids remember those times with fondness, as well. At least, I hope they do. :)

As an adult, sometimes birthdays have been bittersweet. Not every family celebrates birthdays like mine did, as I sadly discovered. Sometimes, nobody in my house even remembered to say “Happy Birthday” to me. But my mom & dad ALWAYS did. Even when I lived too far away to visit on The Day, my dad would call me first thing in the morning to start my birthday off right! Then he’d ask, “Do you feel any older?” And then we'd both laugh!

In most recent years, I’ve had a blast on my birthdays! My 50th was celebrated with David aboard a cruise ship – and we had such a great time! (I still can hardly believe I've passed the "50" mark. I don't feel as old as that sounds!)

The years fly by. This week, my mom & dad dropped by my house one evening with birthday greetings. I cherish every visit with them. They’ve always been my “cheerleaders” even during times when my life didn’t seem to have much worth cheering about.

As I said earlier, my folks made me feel special. I am Princess Of The Day every year at the end of August! By celebrating the day that I came into being, they remind me that they think my life’s a beautiful thing, that I’m a valuable person, that I am worthy of a celebration. And you know, I think that’s how God looks at us, too.

He loves us unconditionally! He smiles and blessings fall all around us – all we have to do is receive them. Even when we mess up, or have a “bad day” (or month, or year) – God’s still there, offering advice and cheering us on toward better times. He has a definite purpose for our lives – and when we grab hold of that purpose, He is doubly pleased! Each person – every one of YOU -- is special and unique, and worthy of celebration!

So come on! Let’s celebrate! Toss the confetti, sing a merry song! Have some cake and a scoop of ice cream (make mine chocolate, please!). Celebrate the love of God for all His children!

And even if it’s not “your” special day – have a Happy Birthday anyway! I know I will!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

We'll return to Logba Tota on my next post!

Blessings to all!

Anita <><

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