What is a birthday? It can be many things, but when it is right it is a small slice of Disney World, reputedly the happiest place on earth. Now if you have not seen my ugly mug you may not know I have collected quite a few birthdays in my time. I know what you are saying, birthdays are for the young. But perhaps that is part of the problem with our methods. Why should all the fun be reserved for the young? Doesn’t the bible instruct us to be joyful all of our life?
The first secret to a happy birthday at any age is your attitude. I will admit I can be a Debbie Downer (this is a term one of my daughter’s friends favors, not about me thankfully)when it comes to birthdays. My worst episode of one of these was when I turned the big 3-0. You would have thought that was Armageddon the way I acted. I mean 30 was old at one time, you know.
My attitude about birthdays changed forever two years later when I watched my brother struggle through his final days of a futile battle with Cancer. I realized every day was a gift and birthdays were to be celebrated and age was just a number. Thirteen years later I celebrated my first birthday without my father and by then I understood the concept much better.
So why am I telling you this? Am I looking for sympathy? No. This is part of a large thank you to my wife, children and family who combined over this past weekend to give me a superb birthday present, what I affectionately call the Best Birthday Ever.
I had the good fortune to have the calendar working to my favor with my birthday falling on the weekend, January 5th to be exact. We have church in the morning and evening, which limits time, so we got an early start, beginning the celebration Saturday afternoon. Our first event was the Disney movie “Saving Mr. Banks.” This is the story of the Mary Poppins movie told from the standpoint of the woman who created the character. It was a great movie, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Paul Giamatti. I have loved anything Disney my whole life and enjoyed seeing a depiction of Walt Disney’s ways.
Next we were off to the local NASCAR track. No, I did not take out Toyota Highlander for hot laps around the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway. That is left to younger ones like my son Isaac. We could have done one of three things there: Ride through the four mile Speedway in Lights display, visit the temporary Ice Rink or ride the inner tubes down a snow-less Chill Hill. We chose the third option and it was a hilarious and fabulous blast.
Living where we do we don’t get a tremendous amount of snow, but when we do we love to go out as a family and enjoy our hills. We have in the past had parties during adverse weather conditions and invited friends over for sledding parties. But this day was just for my wife, the kids and me. I will admit everyone was less than impressed when we arrived to look at the three hundred foot slide.
That attitude was erased as soon as the first trip began. I cannot remember when I have laughed so much. The reaction of my eighteen year old son had me rolling all the whole day because the speed attained on the frozen portions of the track was considerable. Doing some rough mthat on the length and the amount of time to clear the length I estimate we were traveling 25-30 miles and hour on the inner tubes.
To cap off Saturday we traveled another twenty to thirty minutes west to Bluff City, Tennessee and visited a restaurant famous for some of the best barbecue I have had in my life. It had been a dozen years since I had been there and no one else in the family ever had. I used to work just across the hill from the place and we would come for lunch and it was always the best .
Ridgewood Barbecue is the name of the place and anyone around my area knows it very well. It was the perfect capstone to a perfect birthday celebration. Had we ended the celebration with that I would have been totally happy, but there was one more addition to the schedule to come on Sunday.
You will remember from above I said my dad was no longer with us. Thankfully all of his brothers and sisters are. They collect at my house for the family Christmas celebration and it is something I look forward to every year. On Sunday we met with my two uncles and one of my cousins and her family for lunch.
Family to me is so much more valuable than any present I have ever or will ever receive. Family is irreplaceable and moments you take to spend with them are priceless. They are the reason my birthday was the “Best Birthday Ever.”
My wife makes birthdays a priority for everyone in our home. It is a day to feel special just because you are you. I cannot thank her enough for what she does for me.