An Opposite Birthday

The guests: Esta, Elizabeth, two ten year old Hispanic girls, and an eight year old Hispanic girl.

The presents: Three copies of my book, which I gave to the girls.

Huh? How does that work?

You know the Bible story where the guy invites all those fancy people to his party, but they can’t come? So he gets the waifs and strays? That’s how my birthday party was. Originally I was going to have some Bible School friends and a few relatives, but things came up, and no one was able to make it.

Fine. Party off.

This was on a Monday, and I went to the trailer park to see if my friend Andrea wanted to go out for ice cream or something. I had sort of promised that I’d do something with her sometime. But she couldn’t come. She had just gotten back from a trip. “Can we do something tomorrow?” she asked.

“Well, tomorrow is my birthday. Maybe we can have a party!”

“Okay!” she said.

Thus, I was stuck with the awkward task of planning a birthday party for myself. Needless to say I was stressed out. Part of the reason I was so stressed was the whole issue of other guests. I got Andrea’s phone number so I could contact her about time and place, but I still needed other guests. So I asked her to ask some of her friends. But I was still worried, because I didn’t want to take anyone without their parent’s consent, and I don’t speak Spanish. You know?

Thus, I wasn’t having a very happy birthday when I pulled into the trailer park. It turned out OK though. After picking up Andrea she said that she had invited Cynthia and Cindy when she saw them in the park. Cindy was visiting Cynthia because her mom was gone and I got to talk to Cynthia’s mom (well, as much as you can talk to someone when you don’t know their language) so I knew everything was okay. I promised to get them home by five and all. Whew.

We went to my house, where Esta and Elizabeth were. We ate a castle cake and fruit and acted silly for a while. They we drove to Union Dam and had a scavenger hunt, which the two teams tied.

The prize? My book of course.

I can’t describe how excited they were when I gave them my book. They were all smiley and reading passages and passing the books around to see what I had written in each of their books.

It was 5:00. So I drove them home, still clutching their books with excitement.

That’s when I realized something funny. Cliche, actually, but funny all the same. And that was that giving those girls a copy of my book, and seeing how excited they were about it, was the best birthday gift I got today.

Yes, I will admit part of the joy was that I felt so important. Like this amazing author, so that her friends say, “I’m gonna tell all my friends that I’m friends with an author!” But it was just a beautiful feeling. Altogether. The giving, and the feeling important, and the overall idea that I’m a part of something greater. You know?

4 responses to “An Opposite Birthday

  1. It’s really true that it is more blessed to give than to recieve! Happy Birthday glad it was good!


  2. wow, emily, you inspire me! i always wanted to have a birthday sort of like that–giving to people who are really in need. its fun doing that at christmas too.


  3. This post popped up as an archive suggestion…I have not read five years of your posts today. Anyway, I was thrilled to see that these are MY girls, provided you were in Harrisonburg for this birthday? I was their club teacher for two years or so, and it’s so fun to see old pictures of them. They’re doing great, as far as I know. 🙂


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