As I grew older, I began to appreciate a little more the cause for celebrating another year of living. Not everyone has such a pleasure, and I suppose that the older we get, the more remarkable it is that we have lived another year. But even as a still relatively young man, birthdays have struck me as an occasion for people to make a much bigger deal out of something. Until several years ago, when a wise friend and mentor offered this blessing on my birthday: “I am thankful for your life.”
I suppose that’s really what a birthday is about: being thankful for your life. Of course, I am very thankful for my own life, but this blessing offered from a friend helped me understand the big to-do of birthday parties. After all, don’t we all want to know that other people are thankful for our lives as well? I know I do, and it warms my heart to think of the people who love me and are grateful that my life has intersected with theirs.
Now my little girl reaches her very first birthday, and I see it all in a whole new light. Maybe it doesn’t always strike me as significant that I survived my thirty-second year on this planet (although it probably should), but it most certainly does seem significant that my little girl survived her first year. What a year! All the growth and experience that she has encountered! She’s been through quite a lot (as has her father) and to whatever extent she can experience the human emotions of pride and satisfaction, she most certainly should feel them today.
But whether or not she does – and let’s face it, she probably doesn’t, because she doesn’t understand that today is her birthday – I can claim unequivocally that I am proud of her. I absolutely want to celebrate her birthday, because it is completely remarkable to me that she has lived a year. She was born thirty minutes into my thirty-second birthday, and I have often grumbled good-naturedly that I would never have my own birthday again. But truthfully, that’s perfectly fine. The gratitude I feel for my own life is eclipsed by the gratitude I feel for her life, which amplifies the gratitude I do have for my own life.
It’s ridiculous how thankful I am for her life. Seriously, you should ridicule me. In case you haven’t picked up on it elsewhere in these blog posts, I’m stupidly in love with that sweet little girl, made foolish in hundreds of ways by the passion I feel for her. It’s cool. Her life has made my life infinitely richer, and I could not be more grateful. So yes, it’s my birthday too, but I’m much more excited for my little girl. Yes, we have a huge party planned, and I’ll accept whatever attention (and certainly gifts) that people offer me. But it’s all about her for me. I praise God for her life and I am thankful that my life could give to hers. And I will never fail to give thanks for each year that I have with her – for each day. May she always know that her daddy is thankful for her life.