Do you remember what your birthdays were like as a child? If your upbringing was similar to mine, you had a family birthday dinner, a birthday celebration at school where you brought cupcakes in for the whole class, and then some sort of birthday party with your friends. My birthdays growing up were always such a huge deal. My parents would let me plan a huge party with all my friends, games, activities, my favorite foods, and goodie bags for everyone to take home. I'd always ask for one big present - my parents over the years bought me things like bikes, shoes, clothes, and a surf board. So naturally, I have very positive feelings when I hear the word, "birthday."
However, the kids our ministry serves - orphans - don't have families who celebrate them on their birthday. Many of the kids we serve don't actually know how old they are or when their birthday is simply because it's not celebrated.
It's a phenomenon that I've witnessed over my past 4.5 years here in Monterrey and just not understood. I've forgotten kids' birthdays before and it'll be 2 pm and someone will remind us that it's that kid's birthday so then we all yell, "happy birthday!!!" like all last minute as if we had known the whole time. I've been the caregiver for children who have been in tantrum mode for a solid week and I've not understood why - only later to realize that the child was upset because it was the week of their birthday.
On some one's birthday, family and friends remind them that:
they are special
I live with 7 orphan boys these days. Over the past several months, we've tried our best to make sure that on the day of my kid's birthday to celebrate them - how God made them, to remind them that they matter and are loved, remembered, not forgotten. So far, we've celebrated 3 of their birthdays. Each boy is different so each boy gets to pick how he wants to celebrate. Several have chosen pizza and one chose a specific type of tacos with strawberry Tang. The strawberry Tang was the most important part to him so we made 2 pitchers instead of just one.