Today, she would have been 67 years old.
But, instead of celebrating in the usual fashion, I am left with memories of birthdays in the past.
You see, my Mother passed from this life on November 14, 2017.
Here is a picture of us celebrating her last birthday: December 3, 2016.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. Sure, we had a home and plenty of food to eat. We had clothes, although they were seldom “name-brand.” My parents struggled and finances were strained at times. But one thing remained the same: Christmases and birthdays were always special.
Christmases included her working tirelessly to make the day special for us. She scrimped and saved hard-earned dollars and made sure she spent the exact same dollar amount on each of us. She found treasures she knew we had admired. She purchased books and games she knew we would love. She even managed to surprise us with extravagances we never expected.
Our birthdays were special as well. We didn’t get a toy each and every time we went to a store, so we especially looked forward to a day that was just for us! She MADE our cakes. She was talented, and they were beautiful and delicious. Our gifts were always special and that is exactly how she made our birthdays. Even in the last three years, while she was battling cancer, she still made us a birthday cake. Each of us has a favorite cake and with the help of my Daddy (who has become quite the chef the past three years), she made sure we had our favorite cake on our birthday.
My Mother took time to find gifts that would be special to the recipient. She was thoughtful. She enjoying making handcrafts like crochet pieces, cross-stitch, and quilts. Countless nieces, cousins, and friends received handmade crocheted baby blankets or baby quilts for their baby showers. She took care to pick a design the person would like and took favorite colors or nursery colors into consideration. Many of my friends received beautiful crochet pieces or quilts to put in their new homes when they were married. Her gifts made you felt special, and they made you feel “seen.” She put much thought and many hours of work into the beautiful gifts she created.
She knew how to make a person feel special.
Because of the way I was raised, I never knew other people did not really celebrate birthdays, special events, or Christmases. It saddens me when I hear, “Birthdays were never a big deal in my house.”
A celebration of someone’s birthday does not have to include lavish gifts or a huge event. It can be as simple as preparing their favorite meal. There doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive cake. Perhaps they don’t even like cake. You can always bake brownies or a pie if that is their favorite dessert. Maybe you can’t afford a costly gift. Make a card. Use your talents and creativity to give them something that makes them feel special.
Every person’s birthday is special. Every single year that we live on this earth should be celebrated as a gift….because that is exactly what it is: a gift.
So, may I encourage you?
If someone you love has a birthday or special life event coming up, why not look for ways to show them how special they are to you?
And, if a person you love is no longer living, why not celebrate their life by doing something special for someone else in their honor?
***In the comments, what are ways that you celebrate the lives of those you love?***