My mother had a strange ritual that she would perform. If she happened to be looking up and see that the clock said 3:21, she began to sing “Happy Birthday” in a low tone with her clear, wonderful soprano. She passed along her strange ritual to my father who, if the clock happened to say 7:31 when he saw it, he would sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” in his deep bass voice. They would sing it almost under their breath, but still loud enough so that people could hear it.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]So, in this season when we recognize a different kind of birthday with the “rebirth” of God’s son, we all have something to celebrate. [/pullquote]I thought they were both nuts. When I was an snarky teenager who was mortified at just how cute a couple they were, I asked them why they did that. My mother told me that was the time of day that reflected their respective birthdays and so, in that minute, for as long as that minute, it was time to celebrate.
Yes, I thought they were nuts then. Now that I’m older, I see a little more clearly how stopping to celebrate yourself at some point in the day makes sense. Their song is almost is the same exercise that I’m doing for myself this year as I embrace my word of the year, “joy.” I take time at the end of the day to think about what gave me joy that particular day. I now understand that stopping to celebrate yourself was their reflection on their gratitude in being alive, and bearing witness to existing in that moment.
So, in this season when we recognize a different kind of birthday with the “rebirth” of God’s son, we all have something to celebrate. Their crazy little ritual has not passed on to me as of yet. I have the worst luck with catching the clock in that minute and remembering to sing “Happy Birthday” in a low and soft tone to myself. But I’ll catch on. Some family traditions are too nutty, and too precious, to be given up.