Today is Jim Lennon’s birthday. Happy Birthday Jim!
Many others also celebrate their birthday today. For example, Sister Margaret Mary Graney– Happy Birthday Sister! Bill Hazzard’s sister Marie Rossbach is also a member of the Good King Wenceslas Day club… she’s a heavenly member! Happy Birthday Marie!
“As one untimely born” (1 Cor 15:8)… I too came into the world on December 26, a day I remember as the most unfair day of the year for being born.
What can I say? I was a jerk. It’s not as if my Mom could choose the day of my birth. Mom, who loved babies more than any other version of humans, was surely thrilled to welcome her “first born son.” I never even considered the likelihood of how my impending arrival must have ruined Christmas for her that year!
Dad was less thrilled. Mom “labored” me alone. Dad sat in the car outside the Wilmington General Hospital reading the newspaper until I had been cleaned and my nakedness appropriately covered over before making his grand entrance. When told “You have a son,” Dad responded, “We will name him George.” Mom typically acquiesced to Dad’s decisions, but not that day. With the last ounce of strength a woman must have after having just struggled the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, Mom firmly said, “His name is Gregory!” Her fighting weight in those days was 98 pounds, but Mom, though not Canadian, proved to be a champion on that Boxing Day.
I imagine I was an irritable person from the start. Had I been born on the 4th of July, I most likely would have protested all the fireworks. There’s an Irish gene that perpetuates a trait called “disagreeable.” Perhaps my overcast manner was congenital.
My younger sister Anne was born on December 23, a day chock full of anticipation and holiday happiness. The memory that is lodged in my neural grooves is the evening our family had gathered for cake and ice cream on 12/23. Dad had begun lighting the candles on the cake and we were all ready to sing “Happy Birthday Anne.” Mom leaned down and quietly told me, “Honey, this is your birthday cake too.” I wanted to cry. But even more, I didn’t want to break my Mom’s heart.
Still, the day after Christmas is just as joyful a priority letter in the mail from the IRS. Back in the day, 12/26 was referred to as “the Christmas blues.” In time, its emphasis shifted as people made it the “Christmas gift return day” (which meant that thrifty people would until the day after Christmas if they wanted to buy me a discounted present).
A few years ago, Jim Lennon sent me the most wonderful greeting on December 26. Along with “Happy Birthday,” Jim sincerely described the honor he always felt in having been born on the day after Our Lord was born. For Jim, it made this day so much more special.
What impacted me so deeply was that Jim assumed that I too had the same sense of blessing in having been born on this day. At first, I felt guilt for not having always understood what Jim did. But even more, I was so impressed by his great attitude.
These days, I realize that I have no reason to carry old disappointments into a new day. And truly, that’s what today is… a blessing, a new opportunity.
I may not light candles on a cake or open gifts on December 26, but I do celebrate today as the miracle it is for me. I now see 12/26 as a day of great blessing, not because I was born on this day, but because I am alive to see this day.
Thanks Mom for giving life to one who hasn’t always appreciated how very blessed I am. I’m a slow learner.
It’s a good day. Thanks be to God.
Happy Birthday Jim Lennon!