Birthdays are the best

Don’t you just love your birthday? You get a whole day to celebrate your birth and your life. People you haven’t heard from in a while reach out because they are thinking of you. You might even have a cake with candles—and you get to make a wish.

I love, love, love my birthday, and it just happens to be today. I love all the greetings. I love that my children get excited about it—and that today they are taking me to a secret location for lunch. I love that my husband always tries to make it special. I love that it’s during the summer and that makes it easier to take the day off.

And I love that my family knows how important my birthday is to me. We laugh about how I believe it should be a national holiday.

Every year I’m a little older, of course.

Every year I look at my life and can hardly believe the blessings I’ve been given.

Every year I wonder whether I should have accomplished more in my however many years.

Every year I try to imagine what the next year will bring.

But I mostly feel so grateful, so loved, so ready for whatever will come next. And that’s what I love the most is that moment to stop and reflect.

Each birthday is like a moment where you’re standing at the top of a mountain. You marvel at how you’ve reached this point, and you look up and down and around and try to imagine what will follow.

But it’s also just a moment full of gratitude. How completely marvelous to be given the opportunity to live on this beautiful earth surrounded by people who love us. There are so many challenges, and not every day is full of sunshine and rainbows, but every day is a chance to touch someone else’s life—even a stranger’s—with ours.

What a gift.

Last night I blew out the candles on the cupcakes my mother baked for me for an early birthday celebration—my 364/365th as my husband jokingly called it.

And blowing the candles with me were our two sons. My parents were singing nearby. One of my brothers and one of my sisters, my brother-in-law, three nieces and three nephews had joined us, too. And my husband, whose love for me and our family is absolutely extraordinary, was there, of course.

Surrounded by so many answered prayers, I didn’t even think to make a wish. What more could a birthday girl want?

But what I wish for you is that today—even though it’s not a national holiday—will be a good one for you. Maybe it’s just an ordinary day full of ordinary struggles and joys. But even without streamers and balloons and singing, I hope you can find a moment to feel grateful that you are you.

And I hope whenever your birthday comes, that it’s an absolutely fabulous day.

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Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.