Lost in the Holiday Shuffle ~ Grandma’s Christmas Birthday

Photo submitted by Patti Richter.

ROCKWALL/HEATH, TX (Dec. 21, 2014) The Christmas tree of my childhood held 1960’s ornaments—silver orbs with spikes and color-filled depressions. We threw on strips of foil “icicles” and pronounced it good. Maybe that’s why our late-December visits to the grandparents’ house felt like arriving at Disneyland.

Grandma loved to decorate at Christmastime. She adorned the Christmas tree with hand-made beaded ornaments in silver, gold and pearl. Its branches hung low with the weight of thick “snow” that she added. A plugged in color-wheel at the base of the tree made everything shimmer. Across the room, the fireplace mantle wore white flannel with red trim for the occasion, while the hearth served as a desert for wise men on tall camels traveling to Bethlehem.

The Christmas season caused Grandma to break out of her otherwise practical and conservative self. For years it never occurred to me that her Dec. 22nd birthday gave her an added reason to celebrate.

Our Christmas get-together each year overshadowed Grandma’s birthday, though she never seemed to mind. (Perhaps as the youngest of ten children she grew up being lost in the shuffle). We brought her a holiday poinsettia to say happy birthday.

Grandma gave up her Christmas decorating after Grandpa died. Her vintage ornaments stayed in old hat boxes in the coat closet. For years, she joined the family gathering at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve.

In the weeks before Grandma’s 90th birthday, I asked my parents if they had any plans to mark her big day. She’d be with them on Christmas Eve, they said. Though I couldn’t make the long-distance trip that Christmas, I wanted to show Grandma I cared. For days I tried to think of the perfect gift but came up empty. Running out of time, I turned to the Lord to ask for his help. After praying, an idea came instantly: Get her a cake.

When I called my mother to ask about a local bakery, she offered to make a birthday cake.

“No thanks, Mom. I really want to order one,” I said. “I know you’re having everyone for Christmas, but could you also invite some of the family over for cake on Grandma’s birthday?”

Two days before the Christmas Eve gathering, Mom brought home the beautiful, two-layer cake. When Grandma arrived later that day, a small circle of family waited to surprise her.

I was blessed to hear that Grandma enjoyed her party. But her comment about the cake astonished everyone: “This is the first birthday cake I’ve ever had.”

Then I knew the Lord had truly directed me to the perfect gift.

By Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Patti Richter of Heath. Read her Good Faith columns at BlueRibbonNews.com. 

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