Today is my dad's birthday. A lot of people who have a holiday birthday wish that they had a different date. I even had friends at one time who celebrated their child's half birthday so it could be more special, not get lost in the Christmas festivities. But when I asked my dad last year if he minded having his birthday on Christmas eve, he said that he enjoyed it. And my mom made sure it was a grand occasion.
Because of his birthday, we would have our biggest celebration on Christmas eve. Mom baked for months ahead, putting tins of cookies and appetizers in the freezer. We moved around frequently when I was growing up because of daddy's job, so we were often separated from extended family. My parents solved that by having an open house party on Christmas eve for neighbors and friends from work. I loved these gatherings! There was so much good food, festive decorations, lively conversation, and sometimes dancing. People would come for a short while before church or show up afterward. Some years we'd go to a late service after the guests left. It felt like a perfect ending to such an evening - the smells of pine and incense, the music, the beauty of the church, and the stories of another birth so long ago. And that dead tired feeling you get after so much excitement.
Last year my dad turned 85. We flew to Seattle to help them celebrate and had planned a big party with their friends at my brother's home. As it turned out, Seattle had the biggest snowstorms they'd had in over 25 years and the party was postponed several days. Many people couldn't get there even then - but it was such a treat to see how enthusiastic my dad still was. His delight is contagious.
This year we are back to celebrating the evening with our children and grandchildren. So many families share similar circumstances - separated from loved ones over these holidays, with phone calls and memories to maintain the ties.
When daddy turned 80 we couldn't be there so we made a video for him. One of the sequences had our grandchildren sitting on the couch doing "Are you 1, are you 2?....." and gradually falling over as they got closer to 80. As though they were getting exhausted, just counting. Never mind having lived through that many years! Here's to another journey around the sun. Happy Birthday, daddy! Are you 1, are you 2....?