Today is my birthday and I have to let go of the fantasy that I am not middle-aged. It is an adjustment for me. I have been pretty militant about keeping my birthday completely separate from Christmas for obvious reasons. Be honest, how many times in your life have you gotten a "Happy Birthday to the Christmas Baby" card? I have gotten many. The gifts are not the issue, but it is the fact that allows people to put little effort into the day. I have to admit my mom was very good about it when I was little. She had my birthday celebration earlier in the month and I had everything that anyone else had on their birthdays that happened not to fall on or near a major holiday. That all changed about when I was 14 or so. There was a time that my birthday cake was actually Christmas Day dessert. Yeah, I had to wait two days to get cake. I hated it.
But, you grow up and realize it is not that big of deal and you don't care as much anymore. That has been true with the noted exception of a really horrible situation that occurred during a year that myself and four or five of my friends turned thirty. But I got over that too. Sort of.
Every year at my church we "adopt" ten needy families. We make sure that they have everything that need to celebrate the holiday season. Thanksgiving is at my church and it included a full meal and they always go home with leftovers to last a few more days.
Christmas is a little different that most people would like to spend it with their loved ones, so somehow December 23 got designated as the day that we spend giving the families all the fixings for their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations. A full meal, a tree with all the trimmings, warm clothes and boots for the upcoming winter weather, and of course we make sure every child has some sort of toy. It may not seem like all that much, but it really does take a great deal of coordination to pull this off. We try to arrange it so the kids are not at home when we come, not always possible, but that is our hope, to give them a real surprise.
The first few years or so I got involved in this project there was a little part of me that resented that was how I spent my birthday. I then realized how selfish that was and I got over it. I have come to really look forward to this day and always feel good knowing that these families are going to have a better Christmas than they would without our efforts.
This year, I wanted our church to help out Homeless and Conservative and brought it up several times at the meetings that I attended. But, the project is geared to families with children and since she has no children they decided it was not a good use of the limited funds we have to make this possible every year.
I have done what I can to help her, and I am happy to report that she is getting closer to getting back on her feet. She really should have only a short time left of being without a home.
So my birthday wish is that you take a few moments to help someone in need. Money is tight all around, and you may not be able to give in a financial way, but if you happen to have a few extra can goods in your pantry, drop them off at a local food bank or shelter. It is too late for Toys for Tots, but maybe you know a neighbor that has difficulty giving something to their children this year due to tight or non-existent funds, drop something off on their doorstep for Christmas morning. (Or as in my case the traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve celebration).
If even that is not possible take a moment to go over to visit Homeless and Conservative's blog and give her a Christmas greeting. She will be spending Christmas Eve with me and mine having a traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve, lutefisk and all. But she could still use some holiday cheer to make her weekend a little brighter. She has stayed mostly positive during this experience, but I know she is missing her Aunt who she is unable to go and visit due to both money and work related issues.