Because I missed my post last week, I decided to make it up by posting twice this week.
When people know you’re a Christian every move you make, for better or worse, gets put under the microscope. Whether it’s what you do or don’t do, eat or don’t eat, everything somehow gets called into question.
The other day a student asked me what I had planned for Halloween and when I said I didn’t celebrate it, a concerned look passed over their face. I assured them it had nothing to do with religious conviction as much as it was the fact Halloween is my birthday so I celebrate that day instead. Often when people discover I was born on Halloween they ask me what it’s like (i.e. if I get candy and presents, if I’ve ever thrown a Halloween party, if I like having them together, etc.). Detecting their excitement, I try not to spoil their fun but ultimately I end up telling them like it is: it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Anyone else who shares a birthday with a holiday knows exactly what I’m talking about (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TLvl0vG2Zo).
For the longest time I disliked having my birthday on Halloween, to the point where I started telling people my birthday was November 1st. I figured I could save them the agony of choosing which day was more important to them. While to me, and a close community of people, my birth deserves to be celebrated, for the majority of the world Halloween carries the heavier weight. For kids it’s an excuse to get free candy and for young adults, it’s justification for debauchery. And because I’ve never been big on the holiday in either phase of life, I’ve always felt outside of the party; like it wasn’t for me but I was invited nonetheless.
In recent years, though, I’ve found that it’s the group of people I’m surrounded by that makes my birthday special. Just this past weekend I was reminding of the time my entire InterVarsity chapter made matching yet distinct t-shirts saying “Happy Birthday, Tomy”, wore them to church, and garnered the attention of our leader (who was/is one my greatest heroes). He then put one on, joined us for lunch, and convinced me to come on staff with InterVarsity. I floated on Cloud Nine for days. Even as I write this I’m reminded of last year when my wife surprised me by having all my friends in Cayman show up on our date for frozen yogurt. It was my first birthday in Cayman and I just about melted from the love I felt in my heart. But even that doesn’t encapsulate the homemade Aquaman birthday cards, the misadventures in Berkeley, Last House on the Left watching, and all the great moments I’ve had the fortune of sharing with great people. Yes, Halloween can be tragedy ridden. Yes, my birthday can be saddened by that fact. However, the reality is I’m overwhelmingly blessed with friends and family that make having a birthday on Halloween all the more enjoyable.
Since seventeen I’ve maintained a tradition in which at midnight I listen to a song that somehow incorporated the age I was turning in it to inaugurate my day. The older I get the less my self-imposed traditions and metaphors matter to me. Nevertheless there is a song that does come to mind and I’d like to share that with you.
“Twenty-Four” by Switchfoot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuWJ0LMCotI
Thank you for all the love, support, and birthday wishes. You guys are the best.