As I approach my birthday, people have started to ask what I will do to celebrate, expecting some grand event with many friends and family members. I’ve grown fond of being trusted to do so. However, it reminds me of a terrible ideology people have accepted about their own birthdays: it’s just another day.
It’s always, “Wait until you have kids,” or, “Wait until you’re older,” when I ask why people refuse to celebrate their birthdays. Somehow, the 30th birthday has become more important than the 33rd, or the 40th birthday more important than the 47th. I don’t fully understand how some can look at the anniversary of their birth as just an ordinary day. We should all celebrate our birthdays with a sort of grandness and appreciation, or at the very least not work on your birthday.
Let’s look at the truths of this glorious day. In the past 365 or 366 days (leap year), millions have died. Some people were tortured to death, some murdered, some died of illness, some died by accident, some committed suicide, and some just reached that point of life. Those deaths didn’t include you. You get another chance to make something of your life this year. You should be grateful.
Another fact about this past year is that millions of children were born. Children are the future. As long as we’re able to have children, there’s hope in our futures. It means there is a new group of people waiting to have the wisdom you hold passed down to them. Should we really be so selfish as to treat our lives as just bland?
Perhaps you are not having a great year. Perhaps you are on your death bed or heading towards your death at an alarming rate. Perhaps you are poor and can’t afford to celebrate. Maybe you’re too tired, too busy, have an important meeting, have to watch the kids, etc. Whatever excuses you’ve decided to make for yourself, I’d say, “Open your eyes!” Each day brings about the chance of a miracle!
My worst birthday started on the backend of a firing. Yes, I have been fired from an occupation before. I know, shocking. Despite my work ethic, I was let go. It was two days before my birthday and all the money I planned to spend on myself was now being put on reserve for bills, because your boy was living just about paycheck to paycheck. Good times.
On the day of my birthday, I didn’t have to take off from work anymore because I was jobless. I just sat in my apartment and moped or stressed trying to find a job. I had to tell all my friends my birthday activities, which were going to be grand, had to be cancelled. It wasn’t a big birthday. It might’ve been my 24th. It wasn’t a “special” birthday. I could’ve let it slide, right?
Luckily for me, I have a friend who believes as I do, and he made sure to celebrate my birthday with me. In fact, many friends came together on my behalf to make my birthday just as special as I had planned for it to be. Ironically, though I was expecting my 24th birthday to be the worst birthday ever, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.
I didn’t even want to drive my car at that point. Yet, my true, genuine friends drove me around, invited me out, spent money on me, and cheered me up by just taking care of a few meals and drinks. I even had another friend get me a job on my birthday! I brought in my 24th with just as much flare as any other birthday and it was amazing. I truly felt loved. We should all come together to celebrate our friends in such a way.
Though having friends to celebrate with can be amazing, no one should celebrate your birthday better than you. Think about it. Who is better to celebrate you than you? Who knows all the struggles you’ve overcome to get to this great age? Who has walked in your shoes, or lived your life, better than you’ve lived it? No one is capable or qualified to suffer and smile through your life better than you. Celebrate yourself! You have come a long way! The people who’ve walked with you deserve to, and should, celebrate you!
One of the most inspirational women in my life is my late friend Lakresha Norton. When I tell you, she had the strength ten times as great as mine, she does. Not only did she smile throughout her fatal bout with cancer, but she smiled and remained positive even on her birthday, which she spent in a nursing home.
I had been trying to encourage and motivate her to regain her ability to walk. She kept pushing, and trying, and increasing the distance she walked every week. It was a grueling process, as medications often drained her of energy. Yet, she kept fighting, determined to dance at least to one song on her birthday.
I tried my best to help her stand and move about whenever I visited, just to help show her she’ll get there. It was tough, but on her birthday, she ended up not having the energy. Cancer was too tough an opponent. When I thought I’d come in and see a woman defeated and depressed, she kept that same smile and same positive energy, and celebrated her birthday in the best way she could. It was inspiring, to say the least.
I know she dances in heaven these days, but while we are still here, we need to dance. We need to celebrate! We need to be proud of what we have made it through! No one else could’ve made it through what you went through these last 365 days, so celebrate! Grab a drink, dance to your favorite song, party, shout with joy, get your groove on, and maybe set off a firework! How come we can celebrate the earth rotating around our sun every year (New Year) but can’t celebrate ourselves for doing the exact same thing? How come we can pop fireworks and vacation for the birthday of our nation (Independence Day), yet we work and run errands on our birthdays? This ought to not be so!
If an almost bedridden cancer patient can celebrate her birthday, even though she couldn’t walk down a hallway, who are you to do less for yourself on your birthday? If a recently fired, poor, and recent college graduate can still manage to celebrate his birthday, why can’t you? It’s not really about how you celebrate, but that you celebrate (although I’d suggest keeping away from sin).
You have to celebrate you because you made it through what you went through. There are things even spouses don’t know you went through, but you do, so celebrate! Do runners not celebrate when they win a race? Do sports teams not celebrate when they win the championship? Then why do you refuse to celebrate crossing the finish line from one year to the next or refuse to celebrate the win of a new year with new reasons to celebrate coming soon?
I don’t think I can say this any clearer: CELEBRATE! It’s never just another day. There’s never a less significant birthday. Find, or make, the time to celebrate you. I don’t want to hear I’ll celebrate next week, next month, on my vacation, or just later. Celebrate on the day you were given life because the day you were born, everyone you’ve come across in your life received a blessing. Celebrate God’s blessing to mankind that is YOU.
Yes, you are a gift from God here for all the people you have, are, and will encounter. Walk with your head held high. Don’t allow circumstances suppress the celebration. Instead, use celebration to overcome circumstances. No struggle lasts forever, and there is a time for everything. Your birthday is forever a time to celebrate.
Discontinue the tradition of using your birthday as a weapon against yourself. So what, you’ve gotten older? So what, your troubles have only increased? So what, you don’t look or feel as young as you used to? None of these “excuses” are reason enough to not celebrate. Do what you can for yourself because nobody but God should love you more than you. You know who celebrates your birthday every year? God. Don’t force Him to celebrate your day alone. Celebrate!
*Plays “Celebrate” by Kool & the Gang*
*Plays “Holiday” by Madonna*