Birthdays are emotional. Maybe more when they are yours! Last week was no different for me as I approached my 67th birthday. Over the years, my birthdays have included lots of friends and family. (There have been as many as 150 people at some of them.) COVID worked against that over the last few years. This year I was pretty wrapped up in school with my grandson, as I usually stop talking about the party around January of each year.Over the years, we have had parties in our homes on the mountain, park pavilions, church buildings, and others homes.This year, it got away from me. I was too focused on other things.A few weeks ago, I shared a message about meeting in homes and having food. (Acts 2:42 for those who want to know.) I said as a gathering that we need to major more on some of this. A couple announced, “BBQ at our home next week.” They did not know that it was my birthday. During the week, I asked my wife if we had a plan for my birthday. She said that we did not. I said, “are we good going to the BBQ?” And that was the plan we began to make. Emotionally, I thought I had become irrelevant—even unwanted. I quickly said “no” to that and got back on my horse. I chalked it up to “just a day.” During the next few days, I just got ready for the long weekend. I had a lot of things going on with friends and family and got caught up in loving others.
My sister reached out to me the day before my birthday to tell me to have a great birthday. She said she was staying next to the camp in Vermont that I went to when I was a kid, and she could hear the campers.
Getting ready for the game
It got me thinking about some of my birthdays over the years. Many of those were spent in the Adirondacks. (I was in Lake George just a few days before.) I thought of all the fireworks I had seen being born the day before Independence Day. (My name could have been Samuel! 😊 )I thought of the people that have passed on and the ones I miss. Of those, I have known forever and those I met just a short time ago. I awoke on my birthday, read some texts and messages, and sat down at my computer. A card from my wife was there.It was Sunday, and I needed to get ready for our fellowship service. As I was getting ready to leave, my wife told me that one of my daughters and a couple of grandchildren would be coming over after. I would need the tickets for a local baseball game, and we were staying for the fireworks afterward. Ummm… OK. (Good things I did not give them away when I did not hear from anyone! 😊 )Jacob helped me get the room ready for our church gathering. People came up and said, “happy birthday.” I shared my message and got ready to go home—lunch, a quick nap, and then to the BBQ.My wife told me that we had to pick up my brother. Ummm… OK. (What was going on?)We got to the BBQ, and I dropped Jacob, Larry, and Tina off and went to park the car. As I returned to our friend’s home, I was looking forward to hanging out with folks. It wasn’t long before there were burgers, dogs on the grill, and lots of side dishes, as people showed up. Some folks brought me gifts, but when I was “steered” away from the kitchen and told to sit in a particular chair, I was like, Ummm… OK. And people began to sing Happy Birthday! And they brought out one of my favorite desserts. Homemade cherry pie. (Not from a can!) With whip cream and candles! My wife had begun a surprise party group, and when the family announced the BBQ, she went and asked if they could combine them. The answer was “yes.”
The pie don’t lie! 29th birthday!
What a great BBQ! And one of the great surprises was a friend who had cancer surgery just last week showed up! So good! (Thank you to all of the people that put this together. Who were there. And to the hundreds who wrote, called, or texted.)But it wasn’t over. We left the BBQ and came back to our home. My daughter and grandkids came over and hung out before we got ready to head over to the baseball game. The team? The Keene Swamp Bats. (The Keene Swamp Bats are a collegiate summer baseball team based in Keene, New Hampshire. The team, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, play their home games at Alumni Field.)We got there an hour before the game started because with the fireworks to follow, the bleachers were full, and hundreds of folks brought blankets and chairs.When I think about family, friends, and something fun to do, this is it!
A lot of memories
It brought up a lot of memories.Through the game, I ran into lots of friends. I spent time talking to them with one eye on the game. And yes, one of my birthday presents was… They WON!
Ribby the mascot
(If you live in Keene and have not been to one of these games, please get to one!)And as we approached the top of the ninth with the Swamp Bats up, people began to get their chairs ready. The game was over, and people headed to the field to prepare for the fireworks. And the lights went off, and the show began. An impressive fireworks display. Right down to the finale! Yay!Picking up our chairs, blankets, and backpacks, we headed to where we had parked. We loaded the vehicle and headed to the exit.When we arrived back at my home, my family packed up food, gave hugs and kisses, and headed home. It was after 11l when I put my head down to read and well after midnight when I fell asleep.
Almost show time! Sky darkens as people assemble
I know much of the day was about me, but as I watched the conversations people were having, the enjoyment on faces, and the love that went around, the connection with people is why I do what I do.I now celebrate my birthday year… 😊 And get ready for my oldest’s birthday and my wife’s, but it always comes down to people. Thank you to everyone around that day in one form or another.Someone asked me “why,” I write about things like this. I think the simple answer is that we need to celebrate people. Celebrate them. Let them know they are unique. Because when people feel they are special to others, life changes for all and improves.