A few days ago, we were watching Veggie Tales with our grandson and Jr. Asparagus was having a bad day. It was evening, and in spite of all his subtle hints, nobody had wished him a happy birthday. There was not even a hint of a surprise party or cake and ice cream. Not even so much as a cookie. It seemed everybody had forgotten that today was his birthday.
After his mother tried to comfort him, in what she thought was wrong, he finally broke down and told her the real reason he was upset. When she broke the news to him, he was shocked. Today wasn’t his birthday after all. This was a leap year and his birthday wasn’t until tomorrow.
That reminded me of the time something similar happened to me. It wasn’t a leap year, but my whole family actually did forget my birthday.
It was the morning of my 12th birthday. I woke up all excited. I was another year older. Actually, I was only a day older, but it had been a year since my last birthday. I was used to not getting a lot of presents so I wasn’t expecting to. That never bothered me too much, but I was at least expecting some cheerful “happy birthday” wishes from my family.
My sisters and I were out of school for the Summer and we were spending a few days with our parents and our little sister at their house. Our grandmother was there with us and she had never forgotten my birthday before, but there was no festive salutation from her either.
So many times I’ve seen the scenario, on TV and in movies, where everybody pretends to have forgotten someone’s birthday while secretly planning a surprise party for them. My family wasn’t anything like that, so it never even entered my mind. They had simply forgotten.
I was hurt deeply. I was sad, but I was also a little angry about it, too. I decided I would just wait and see how long it would take them to remember, or if they would at all. I wasn’t going to say anything about it that day, or ever. I must not be that important to them if none of them could even remember that today was the 12th anniversary of the day I came into the world. I doubt that I was that philosophical, but that about sums up the way I was feeling at the time.
As the hours slowly crept along, it became harder and harder to remain quiet about it. Soon, it was all I could do to keep from shouting out loud, “HOW COULD ALL OF YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN MY BIRTHDAY!?” I resisted the urge until noon. I had to say something to someone. Finally, when we were alone, I told my sob story to my sister who I was closest to. I asked her not to say anything to anyone else, and I truly meant it. I still wanted to see how long it would be, but she told them.
They all came and said they were sorry and wished me a “Happy Birthday.” My mom got busy baking me a cake. I don’t remember any gifts or cards, but I remember feeling a lot better after all the fuss everybody made over me. I felt bad about all the negative thoughts and feeling I had for half a day.
I have since realized that people forget things sometimes. I have forgotten plenty in my lifetime, even some very important things. It happens, and I’ve forgotten family members birthdays several times over the years. What we have to realize is, just because someone forgets a special occasion in our lives, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about us. The older we get, the more responsibly we have, and the more responsibility we have, the more stress we have, and the more stress we have the more likely we are to forget something. After all, we’re only human.
The good news is, our heavenly Father has a great memory. He loves us with a love that is so pure and deep that we cannot truly understand it. In Isaiah 49, he tells us he could never forget us.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraven you upon the palms of my hands;
The Father loves us so much that he gave his only Son to take our punishment for our sins and to die in our place. (John 3:16) Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to do it. God tells us that we should love each other as strongly (John 13:34, Ephesians 5:2). If everyone had that kind of love for others, just imagine what an wonderful world this could be.
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