What I learned about Jesus’ birthday when I turned 19

I’ve had some pretty awesome birthdays.

There was the 1987 “Ghostbusters” themed party, complete with proton pack and “Ghostbusters” logo cake. The 1991 birthday where I finally got a basketball goal. And who could forget the 1995 party where Virginia Tech basketball legend — at least in my mind — Shawn Smith attended fresh off hitting the final two foul shots to seal the NIT Title and played put-out with me and my friends.

I could go on and describe a few more good birthdays, or I could tell you about a few not so good ones, like the sweet-16 birthday urination clothes story (I’ll just keep that one in my back pocket for now) but instead I’m going to tell you about the weirdest birthday I’ve ever had — my 19th birthday.

I was in college at what was then Roanoke Bible College and is now the all grown up Mid-Atlantic Christian University. My birthday fell on a Sunday that year and if you know Bible colleges, you know this means there wasn’t a soul, minus us non-ministry-having guys, on campus.

I spent that entire birthday alone. I didn’t see anyone, no one called me, and since we were all still swearing texting would never catch on back then, there was none of that either.  (Just a note: this would never happen today, thanks Facebook.)

All day and not even my parents — who had visited a week prior and celebrated with me then, but still have no excuse — even bother to alter their lives enough to give me a call.

My special day had slipped through the cracks unnoticed.

Now, I’m not telling this story for sympathy, I mean I did get to watch almost a season of the “Simpsons” while eating an entire chocolate chip cookie cake in bed, so it wasn’t all bad. In fact in hindsight, it was kind of awesome.

I’m telling this story because it’s the one time in my life I can remember where my birthday really didn’t affect anyone’s lives, not even my own.

Today, a lot of us are celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

Yeah, I know, Jesus may or may not have been born in December, and sure the church probably didn’t even start celebrating it until sometime in 300 A.D, but regardless, Dec. 25 is the day most Christians choose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

But if you think about it, it’s not really just Christians affected by this birthday party.

Regardless of whether or not people around the world actually celebrate, or even acknowledge, Jesus on Dec. 25, his party likely alters their lives.

People are off work, kids get out of school, and just look at the stores . On Dec. 24, they are absolutely packed with people stocking up because they know Dec. 25 is a different type of day in which they’ll be limited to gas station milk because everything else will be shut down.

Of course this ignores the lights, parades, TV specials, and massive marketing campaigns that surround this day, but just look at some of the smallest tasks we generally complete with ease on any regular day. Buying lettuce, receiving a letter, catching the bus. All are likely altered in some way on Dec. 25.

Regardless of whether a person celebrates Christmas or not, their lives are likely different in some way different on Dec. 25 because around 2000 years ago a kid was born in a manager in Bethlehem.

Just think about that for a second. Think about how much your life changes on Dec. 25 compared to Dec. 26, or Feb. 8, or June 22.

To be honest, it kind of blows my mind. I mean, it took 19 years for my family and friends to slip up and forget the day I celebrate my birthday, but 2000 or so years after Jesus’ birth, I still can’t check out a copy of Harry Potter on his big day.

I don’t know about you, but just to look at that on the surface level, I’d venture to guess there was something pretty special about that guy.

So, if you’re celebrating Christmas today, Merry Christmas and Happy birthday, Jesus.

If not, sorry your mail’s delayed.

— @TravisKWilliams


About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
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2 Responses to What I learned about Jesus’ birthday when I turned 19

  1. Ben Poe says:

    I have often wondered what Mary & Joseph were thinking when the time for Jesus birth came, and they were left to use a manger … did Mary think “What about the things the angel had told me?” The humble beginning could easily be forgotten, uncelebrated by a world that looks for the regal trappings for BIG events, but for Mary and Joseph, could they have been questioning their own expectations? Someone posted a very “classical” looking piece of art of the birth of Jesus with the caption “His Birth Changed History” …..but the artwork has a regal flare of the event, not the modest means of a young couple surrounded by hay and dung ….

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