Yesterday a colleague at work asked me about my favorite birthday memory. I thought for a minute, and then I offered up my trip to France with my parents to see the place where I was born, the Air Force Base where my father was stationed, and the first house where I lived. I would never have been able to find those spots without my parents, and we had a great time zipping around the French countryside near Nancy. It was a great way to usher in my 40's--we went in June, just before my 40th birthday.
Near the end of my very long day yesterday, I had a very different birthday highlight. I was at VBS as the evening wound to a close--I was trying to restore order to the room, since the church has a big funeral Friday morning. I was summoned to the closing group, where a group of almost 40 kids sang the Happy Birthday song to me and to the others celebrating this week and next. They cheered, and one small boy rushed over to hug me.
It's not the traditional way to celebrate one's birthday. Many people asked me how I would celebrate, and when I said I would go to VBS, they said, "But you have big plans this week-end, right?" But I don't--and that's fine with me.
I can go buy an overpriced meal at a restaurant any day of the week. I'd rather have that money go to a food bank than an expensive meal for us. If my spouse gave me an expensive piece of jewelry, I'd be thinking about the extra money we could have salted away in the retirement account if he hadn't bought that expensive gift; I hope I would be gracious, but I'd much rather invest in the house than in a bauble.
It's not every birthday where I'll have VBS kids singing to me after a great night with the prayer loom (for more on that part of my birthday, see this post on my theology blog). This memory is one I'll cherish for the rest of my life.