Thursday, September 5, 2013

Celebration Day

I did my September Quest today...but I'm going to have to tell you about it tomorrow...because today I want to tell you about my Celebration Day.

It was a Celebration Day because it's my birthday...my 44th birthday.  And I am so very grateful for the past 44 years and all that I have experienced in this life.  I'm not one to downplay birthdays.  I have always enjoyed them...and celebrated them...but a few years ago...when I hit that life-changing age of 40...I decided to make a few changes and one of them was how I viewed birthdays.

Growing up, birthdays meant a big family gathering complete with a special cake and presents.  Mom threw the party...made the food...sometimes made the cake...and always had a special gift for us -something we really wanted.  It was a joyous time and it always made me feel special...and loved.

Our Grandmas went to extra effort to celebrate us as well.  Grandma Gem would gather all sorts of fun items for months leading up to our birthdays.  I remember opening a box filled with goodies - things she thought I would like...things she thought I needed...and some things were just for fun.

Atop the present was always a card with my first and middle name written on it. Inside the card I would find a long letter from Grandma Gem about what I meant to her.  It was special...and loving...and very very Grandma Gem. Oh how I miss those sweet letters that would make me laugh...and cry.  

Grandma Teacher also put special touches on gifts to us.  She would spend time hand-making cute little decorations for the gift box.  She would painstakingly cut out each letter of my name in gold foil and tape it across the package.  Inside the present would be something I picked out of the Sears Catalog.

Weeks before my birthday, she would have me look through the catalog and circle pictures of items I would like.  It was SO fun to circle those items and know I would get one of them on my birthday.  I kept many of the crafty package toppers she made.  I have them saved in a box in my closest.  Oh how I miss getting a birthday present with those cute handmade decorations on top.

My Grandmas were so special to me.  I always think of them on my birthday. And I miss them both tremendously.

I guess, as a kid, I was in a hurry to grow up because the day after my birthday...I would start saying I was "almost" the next age.  That went on well into my twenties....but then...I turned 25.

I don't know why...but that was a tough birthday for me. I remember - all of the sudden - feeling SO much older.  That's when I quit saying I was "almost" my next age.  How funny is that?

The year I turned 40...I braced myself.  I had heard other friends say how hard that birthday was and a lot of women make a big deal about that birthday. So in January of that year I started saying it again: "I'm almost 40" or "This is the year I turn 40".  I said it so much that by the time September 5th arrived...it really wasn't that bad.  I mean...I had heard myself say it for 9 months.  I had "accepted" it by then.

As a matter of fact my theme for the day was: "I'm 40 and fabulous". It might seem a bit egotistical...but that mindset changed my attitude about birthdays.  That day I embraced the woman I am and the woman I have yet to become.  I decided right then and there to choose to love and be thankful for every birthday to come.  And that is why I celebrate today.

My birth order places me directly in the middle of the five children born to Mom and Dad. I have been known to say that "I am just the middle child."  It makes my sibling's eyes roll...which is the biggest reason I say it. {Some things don't change with age...}

But the truth is I am the middle child and the third daughter.  Sister is special because she is the oldest...Mom and Dad's very first child...the one that made them Mom and Dad.  Younger Brother came along several years after me and he is special because he is their first boy.  Youngest Brother is their surprise "gift from God" which clearly makes him special.

But what's so special about being the middle child?  As I mentioned...I am the third daughter.  Mom and Dad had a second daughter before me that is our forever Baby Sister.  She died at birth and a heartbroken very young Mom and Dad had to bury their little girl. There were a lot of unknowns at the time...including if it might happen again.

But they put their trust in God to get them through whatever His plans were for their lives. Despite the possibility of having to face such a heart-wrenching experience again...they were thrilled to find out I was on my way.  They prayed over me before I was ever born and celebrated my healthy arrival September 5, 1969.  I came along...a healthy baby...after such heartbreak. And that's why I am special.

Yes all of five of us are special to Mom and Dad.  They love all of us and we know it.  And I am so grateful to God for the blessing of being raised in such a happy loving family.

For the past 24 birthdays I have also had the privilege of celebrating my birthday as Hubby's wife.  We haven't always been able to celebrate the day together...because some years Hubby had to be away on business...but He always did his best to show me his love.  When our boys came along, they joined in on our fun and I had even more to thank God for as each birthday came and went.

And I could go on and on about all the amazing friends that have come into my life and given me so much to celebrate.  They have been supportive...loving...caring...and wonderful examples of inspiration.

So yes...it's my birthday.  And I happily share with you that I am 44 years old.  I openly celebrate this day not because of who I am or what I have done...but because of who God is and what He has done in my life.

While sad...bad...disappointing...or difficult times have come along through the years, I can truly say that God has been incredibly good to me.  He has gifted me with loving family and precious friends.

Today was my "Happy Day". Hubby took the day off to spend it with me. I got to pick where to eat lunch...what to do for the day...and indulge in yummy calorie-filled treats.  I received gifts, cards, texts, messages, and Facebook posts of Birthday wishes. I even got homemade peach cobbler from Mom and a beautiful flower arrangement from my Gourmet Hostess.

It's been a great day of celebration.  And I am most thankful.

I end this Celebration Day with prayers of thanksgiving to God for all the people and love He has brought into my life.  I also ask Him to guide me in the days...weeks..months...and years to come as I strive to live a life worthy of all His great blessings.

And to you, dear reader, I pray that your next birthday can truly be a Celebration Day for you.

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