I had a birthday flop this week. I initially dreamed of collecting as many free things as I could for my birthday, using this list as a starting point. But I lacked transportation.
This week, we sold two of our four vehicles and the engine to one of our remaining cars rests on a pallet in the garage. (We also own a motorcycle that needs TLC before we can register it, and we are babysitting my brother’s boat — but that’s beside the point.) I’m so grateful that God provided us with buyers to our cars; however, it’s been challenging to learn to share a car.
My husband took the car to work on my birthday. Without a car, I could not visit the stores offering freebies. So, I stayed at home.
Unfortunately, the poor man had to work overtime that night. As I fed and put the baby in bed, I threw myself a private pity party. Pity parties are terrible birthday parties and no matter what the circumstances, I had no excuse.
I ended the woe-is-me’s early, remembering an awesome date last Friday and the cool set of cross-country skis my husband bought me. (These are nearly my best birthday present ever — second only to the bicycle I received on the day I turned 8.)
Then I recalled what I had to be thankful for every day. Good food. A healthy child. A loving husband. Spring time. Health. God’s bountiful gifts surround me, and I mostly ignore them. I could be cold and hungry, not moping because I did not having a cake and candles.
The funny thing is that I don’t even care about my birthday that much. I didn’t expect a party or even to eat at a restaurant. Nor did I plan on having a cake and candles. I haven’t had candles in years. Presents, too, are pleasant, but not expected. Yet, I was disappointed.
Then I wondered if we as a culture should celebrate birthdays at all. I would not have been disappointed Wednesday if I were not excited about my birthday. Let’s give up this and every other Hallmark holiday, I thought. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the rest are gimmicks created by the card and flower companies. They have little true meaning.
But before I became a Scrooge for every season, I remembered a scene from Anne of Green Gables.
“You set your heart on too many things, Anne,” Marilla said with a sign. “I’m afraid there will be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.”
“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them, Mrs. Lynde says ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.”
Thank you, Anne, for reminding me that it’s okay to anticipate nice events, and it’s good to wish for some days to be different from others. Most importantly, thank you for reminding me to enjoy the anticipation as much or more than the event itself.
Armed with a more cheerful attitude, I made another plan the following day and this one succeeded! I packed a cold burrito salad* and went on a picnic with my husband and the Squiggle. We laughed at some geese who were battling over the to the pond to the chorus of peeping frogs. It was simple, tasty and restful – a perfect evening.
*This is the innards of a burrito without the wrap: I tossed together brown rice, black beans, cooked chicken, pineapple, lettuce, and peppers. Then, I added a little salt, cumin and chili powder and served it with sour cream and salsa.