A Most Unusual Birthday

Author’s Note: A few years ago, A Most Unusual Birthday, was published in a collection of Christmas stories by Essence Publishing. With a few minor changes, I am posting it here. I hope you will enjoy this slant on celebrating Christ’s birthday.

By Janet Lane

Bobby trembled with excitement! Today was his birthday! For days, he had anticipated the celebration his family would make of his special day.  He especially looked forward to the birthday tradition he and his three older sisters had of having their own way all day. 

If Bobby wanted to have his sisters wait on him hand and foot, or get them to do his chores, he could get away with it on this one day only. Bobby knew he had to be reasonable when he made a demand, though–his sister’s birthdays would roll around in a few months, and if he made them do anything that would warrant a payback, he would definitely suffer when his sisters next celebrated their birthdays!

Bobby had been planning what he would get his sisters to do for him. Cleaning his room was at the top of the list, as that was a chore he wasn’t particularly fond of. As a matter of fact, Bobby had several chores in mind that he was most willing to turn over to his sisters for a day.

However, this birthday was proving to be very different from any he’d ever celebrated with his family before. For instance, his mother started preparing for it earlier than usual–a whole month in advance. Bobby watched, with confusion and curiosity, as she busily decorated almost every room in their house. She strategically placed “Happy Birthday” banners throughout the house. She even put a banner on their front porch and added lights!

Bobby’s dad was behaving just as strangely as his mom. Where he found them, Bobby didn’t know, but his dad had bought several CDs all about birthdays, and was playing them in his house, in his truck, in Mom’s car–anywhere there was a CD player. In the evenings after supper, the family gathered around the DVD player to watch videos all about–you guessed it–birthday celebrations.

Well, the day of his birthday finally arrived. Bobby comforted himself with the thought that all the strange happenings leading up to his birthday would soon make sense. He sniffed the air for the familiar aroma of the breakfast pancakes Mom always fixed on the morning of her children’s birthdays. He strained for the sound of his family’s footsteps and muffled giggles, as they ascended the stairs to wake him. Though he was wide awake, he customarily feigned sleepiness, to encourage the efforts of his family to awaken him with their boisterous rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. Mom, predictably, would capture these moments on her phone’s camera to preserve every moment of the celebration.

Arriving in the kitchen, Bobby would expect to find on his plate a tall stock of pancakes decorated with a single, lighted candle. He would make a wish, blow out the candle, and open just one of his birthday gifts. Later, there would be a festive birthday party where he would open the rest of his presents. 

Usually, his grandparents joined them around the table to enjoy a dinner of Bobby’s favorite foods and a delightfully decorated birthday cake. And Bobby knew that Mom would not fail to hang the birthday flag in his honor from the front porch, so that all who passed their house would know someone within was celebrating a birthday.

Bobby forced himself to lay quiet and still, with his eyes closed, waiting for the familiar birthday sounds to begin. But nothing happened! Curiosity drove him out of his bed, in search of an explanation. After all, the preparations for his birthday had been very unusual, and Bobby figured his family had planned an unusual celebration for his special day, as well.

But Bobby was not at all prepared for what he saw when he turned the corner and entered the doorway of the living room. There his mom, dad, and his three sisters were surrounded by opened presents. They were still in their pajamas. Mom, of course, was videoing the whole thing.

Bobby, unable to contain himself another moment, rushed to the middle of the room. With bitter tears, he pleaded, “What is going on here? I don’t understand! Why are you opening presents? It’s my birthday! Where are mygifts?”

As Bobby lay sobbing in a crumpled heap on the floor, his family gathered around him and began singing, “Happy Birthday.” Bobby placed his hands over his ears, trying to shut out the painful insensitivity of his family’s singing. Then amid all this confusion, he heard his youngest sister, Rachel, say, “Wake up, Bobby, wake up! It’s your birthday, Silly! Wake up!”

Next, he thought he heard his oldest sister, Dorie, suggest, “Let’s sing the birthday song again, only louder. Maybe that will wake him up.”

Kathy, his middle sister, responded to Dorie’s suggestion by pouncing on her little brother, as he lay crumpled in a heap on his bed. Dorie and Rachel joined forces with Kathy, and Mom–of course–didn’t miss getting a moment of this family fund on video!

As Dad gathered his sleepy son into his arms, Bobby realized he had been dreaming–no, he’d had a nightmare! Then Bobby heard the welcomed and familiar words of his father. “Bobby, wake up son. It’s your birthday! Mom has your pancake breakfast waiting for you, and everyone is ready for you to blow out your candle!”

Bobby rubbed his tearful, sleepy eyes as he gave each member of his family an enthusiastic and grateful bear hug. What a tremendous relief! He had not been left out of his own birthday celebrations after all!

May this story serve as a gentle reminder to remain sensitive to our Savior,

whose birthday we honor, and not be guilty of leaving Christ out of his own

birthday celebration.

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