For The Someday Book

Posts Tagged ‘birthday

Last night I dreamt I danced with Dionysus. We met at a conference of some sort, and his nametag said, “Dion.” He was handsome, dashing, winsome, youthful. We flirted across the room, startled by chance connections. We talked with delight about subjects of pleasure and indulgence. There was intrigue, but always innocence.

When we arrived at the party, I asked if he knew how to dance. He took my hand and led me onto the floor for polkas and swings and foxtrots and waltzes with pivots. He swept me off my feet and made me feel giddy and girlish. We both wanted to linger with this bliss. I told him it was my birthday, and he had given me a great celebration.

When the evening ended, there was a choice to be made. Would I follow him? I didn’t even have to say the words: he knew I could not, would not go with him, to run away for a life of dancing and parties. I knew in a new and deeper way that, in spite of the elation of the evening, I did not want to spend my birthday dancing with a stranger. I still yearned to come home to my husband and son, a homemade cake and dirty dishes in the sink. My life, even with its burdens and responsibilities and stresses, was where I wanted to be. It had meaning and purpose and mission. I follow another God, who places stringent demands on me but makes my life matter in the lives of others. I am happy in my life and my chosen path.

I contemplated kissing him, not as a prelude but as a farewell. As I reached to embrace him, Dionysus buried his face in my shoulder and wept. It became clear that he also had a settled life to return to, although I do not know if he was happy or unhappy in it. As he sobbed into my shoulder, I woke up.

I awoke feeling grateful for the night of dancing and nostalgic for my youth, but also profoundly at home in my own grown-up life and relationships and  responsibilities, even with the mess and stress they bring. Dionysus, the god of ecstasy and epiphany, the stranger who comes, gave me a great bacchanalia. The party was a gift, and it made me grateful to return home again. One night with Dionysus, and I was eager to return to Deus, Yahweh, the God of Hope and Sacrifice, the God who also comes—not to help us escape, but to save and to sanctify.

What a great dream-gift to start out my birthday morning.

B just got invited to his first birthday party. One of the girls in his preschool class is having a princess party next week, and he got an invitation. He is very excited!

Since he has never been to a birthday party before, we told him we should probably bring a birthday present for his friend, then asked him what he thought we should get for her.

“My orange car,” he responded. “I can give her my orange car, because I think she would like that.”

Suppressing a giggle, my first thought was to correct him—to tell him no, his friend did not want one of his old toys, she wanted something new. Thankfully, I paused. In that moment’s pause, I realized that he had it right and I had it wrong. Gift-giving should not be all about shopping, it should be about generosity. His instinct was to give his friend something he loved to play with, because he thought she would enjoy it too. Even if that meant he would no longer be able to play with it himself.

Isn’t that the way gift-giving should be? I am long weary of participating in the consumerist model of gift-giving, where showing someone love and affection means shopping for them, where the measure of one’s concern is found in the price tag on the gift or the fanciness of the wrappings.

We plan to encourage B in his desire to share and be generous. We will also go to the store and pick out a new toy for his friend, but we will carefully avoid any indication that his first choice for a gift might not be good enough. Whatever we bring to the party will be topped off with that orange car, wrapped up separately and placed on top, with a note explaining that it is a gift from the heart of one child to another, in the spirit of sharing.

It’s exactly the kind of gift I always want to receive. How about you?

B’s latest game is playing presents. We have a box in the living room that contained presents shipped from relatives far away. All day, B has been putting various toys and household items inside, shutting the flaps, and presenting it to us as a new gift. “Open your present, Mommy! Open your present!”

So far, I have received his blue dump truck at least seven times, along with his rock-n-roll truck, an old license plate, a “pretty thing” (fancy bow), and his stuffed doggy.

The best part is the note. There is a post-it note from FedEx that always goes in the gift, and every time, B “reads” it to us.

Here are some remembered reconstructions of the note:

“Dear Mommy, Happy Birthday!”

“Happy Birthday to you…” (sung)

“Dear Daddy, I hope you have the best birthday.”

“Dear Mommy, here is your present. Happy Birthday!”

Truly the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving.

About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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