Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Birthday Season

It’s that time of year. Time for putting up decorations, time for buying presents, time for planning parties, time for making cake!

Wait, did you think I was talking about Christmas?

Yes, there are Christmas preparations too.

But no. I’m talking about the decorations and the presents and the parties for my soon-to-be seven-year-old boy and two-year-old girl. With one born two days before Christmas and one born three days after, this is the season of birthdays for us.

And if last year was any indication, this season promises to be a mad-house every year for the next decade or so. Because when your kid has a birthday around Christmas, it just isn’t fair, and you’ve got to do everything in your power to make it special. You’ve got to fight to have a birthday party (maybe not with friends, because everyone is traveling or busy with family, but the cousins are even more fun, right?), and you’ve got to make sure the wrapping paper isn’t the same one Santa uses, and you’ve got to get balloons and streamers that are NOT red and green. And you’ve got to make cake.

Lots of cake.

Cake for Birthday #1, cake for Birthday #2, and cake for the joint party the following weekend.

And you have to make all this cake even though no one will eat it. Because who wants birthday cake when there are plates of cookies (molasses and mint chocolate and snickerdoodles) and gingerbread houses covered in candy and peppermint bark and stocking treats and let’s not forget Christmas dinner pie!

But even though no one will eat the birthday cake, you will still make birthday cake. Because cake is what is served at every other birthday in every other month of the year, and gosh darn it, your children are going to have as normal a birthday as possible!

And during this crazy week, you will live in the kitchen. You will make two special birthday breakfasts plus Christmas brunch. You will make two special birthday dinners, plus the traditional Christmas Eve smorgasbord, and possibly (the years you’re hosting) all of Christmas dinner. And of course, you will make cake. Which means by the time the joint birthday party rolls around, you will wonder if anyone else will notice if all you serve is leftovers (and cake!).

When you wrap the presents, even though you only have three children, you will make five piles. And you will alternate between feeling guilty about how small each pile is considering this is the one time of the year that two of your children get any presents at all, and feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the sudden accumulation of so much stuff! Not to mention the cost of it all!

But in the quiet moments, the few snatched between all the present wrapping and decorating and cake-making, when you have a moment to reflect, you will feel that this whiplash between singing Christmas carols and singing Happy Birthday is actually… kind of perfect.

Because what is Christmas, after all, except the biggest birthday party of them all?

It is birthday season.

And what are birthdays for, except to celebrate the incredible blessing of life? We celebrate birthdays not only to remember the day we were born (most of us can’t remember that anyway), but to celebrate the life we’ve lived since being born.

The year my son was born was one of the most sacred and holy Christmas seasons I’ve ever had. I held my newborn babe and thought of the other one, born so many thousands of years ago.

But my son is not a baby anymore. Every year brings a new number, longer limbs, a bigger vocabulary. He wants bikes and books and LEGOS and a Star Wars birthday party, this growing boy of mine. And as he grows, I can’t help but think of a growing Savior. He was not a Babe every year either. He turned one, and then two, and even seven years old. What was he like as a seven-year-old? What games did he play? What songs did he sing? What would he have wanted for his birthday at seven?

The reason we celebrate birthdays is not just that we were born. We celebrate birthdays to celebrate the life behind and ahead of us.

The reason we celebrate Christmas is not because a baby was born in a lowly stable. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because that baby grew up, year after year, and did remarkable things with his life.

And so on the 23rd, I will celebrate my son, honor his remarkable life, and shower him with as much love and affection as I can. And on the 28th, I will celebrate my daughter, and look forward to all the amazing life she has yet to live.

And on the 25th, I will celebrate my Lord. I will honor His remarkable life. I will consider what it is I can give Him that would please Him most.

For it is birthday season, and that is how we celebrate birthdays.

That, and with cake!

Every other year or so, I tend to write a Christmas essay (this season makes me reflective, for obvious reasons), usually about my birth experiences. You can read my other ones here and here.


  1. I love this! Christmas really is birthday season.

  2. I soo relate to this, yesterday we celebrated the birthday of our newly Miss 5.
    We've sold her on the idea that sharing a Birthday week with Jesus is pretty amazing. so all good so far

    1. Since writing this post, it's amazing how many people I've noticed who have birthdays around this time. With the right mind frame, it is a great season to celebrate a birthday!