If I said, “Birthday Sunday” to anyone in our parish, I’m pretty sure they’d know I was referring to the monthly Birthday blessing for all the people celebrating a Birthday in that month. I must admit, I really love seeing all the smiles on the faces of those being blessed, young and old alike. It’s such a simple thing and yet it’s a reminder that all of us are loved and valued and celebrated.
It didn’t dawn on me until today that February is my mom’s birthday month. She’s been gone from us for a long time, but memories of many family birthday celebrations through the years bring comfort and even a smile as I look back. Our mother made sure that each of us five siblings and our Dad had our favorite type of birthday cake and meal each year. For Dad, that usually was a Lemon Meringue or Cherry Pie. I almost always asked for her yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting. Mom did not make a big fuss about her own birthday, but her birthday cake had to be Angel Food with strawberries. It didn’t matter that strawberries in upstate New York are not in season during February—she was perfectly content with the frozen sliced strawberries and a little bit of sugar. She just loved angel food cake so much, and yet, it’s such a simple, ordinary cake.
The older I get, the more I understand that often in simplicity is beauty found. There is joy in the simple, quiet, ordinary everyday moments all around us. I also am learning not to take some things for granted. I wish I had taken the time to have asked Mom what her favorite meal was, but I almost think she would have said, “any meal where we’re ALL gathered around the table is my favorite meal.” I know it was Mom (and Dad) who first brought me to Mass and instilled the love of the LORD and Eucharist and parish that burns deep within. And I’m so grateful for that gift more than all the birthday cakes and dinners through the years. Every time I see an angel food cake, I think of our mom and her infectious laugh and all she taught me. And that, indeed, is a blessing!