“You sing to yourself on your birthday?!” a wide-eyed little boy asked, baring his disbelief, after I had read one of my books to about 200 kids in his school. His question sounded like he was hoping for a “no” answer.
Yeah, why would anyone sing to himself on his birthday?!
I tried hard not to laugh. He was serious. His tears were bravely held in check. He had that look I used to see on my children, when they were his age, each time their pet puppy got sick.
He was referring to the July 20 page in my devotional book for children, “What’s for Breakfast Volume 2.” It’s entitled “A Song for Me.” I wrote. . .
“This morning, I woke up before everyone did. I quietly went in the bathroom, locked the door, and sang aloud:
“Happy Birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Grace
Happy birthday to me!
“Go ahead, laugh. This is a happy occasion—my birthday. I wanted to sing first thing in the morning because I was so happy that the Lord has given me another year. [And also—between you and me—in case my children forgot to sing, I had already done it!]”
It was meant to be funny. To my dismay, this five-year-old kid thought it wasn’t. He asked further, “People forget your birthday?!”
And it dawned on me, again, as it does each time I come face-to-face with some of my young readers, that children count birthdays as one of the world's most important occasions. It is a crime for anyone to forget them.
One of my friends’ favorite sob story, whenever we see each other in a children’s party is, "My parents never once threw me a birthday party when I was growing up."
Today, as I celebrate one more birthday, that little boy enters my mind.
I wanted him to know I had not meant to put him through so much anguish by writing about that birthday song for me. So I told him to look closely at my face as I gave him my biggest smile.
I said, “That’s how I looked when I was singing to myself. I was very happy. It’s okay even if people forget our birthday. It's okay even if you have no birthday party. What’s important is, you remember and are grateful for it. And Jesus knows each and every person’s birthday.”
He returned my smile with a bigger one.
What that little boy doesn’t know is, early this morning when I woke up for my walk, I totally forgot it was my birthday. It wasn’t even a part of my thanksgiving prayer.
But when I got home and turned on the light, I saw two home-made posters tucked on the door and the dining table lamp.
It says, “Happy birthday, Mommy—our gift of grace." And beneath it is written, "Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
That verse is now my birthday song and I praise the One who defined beauty for this aging and aged birthday woman.