Most people who know me know that I’m pretty low key, and for many years I haven’t been one to make a big deal out of my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve.
I remember a time when I used to get all wrapped up in the occasion, and celebrated full-throttle, making the day as memorable as possible.
But as I’ve gotten older, I find myself pulling back from the loud, excessive celebrations, choosing instead to simply remember the day, and be grateful for it.
For a while I was worried about myself, wondering why the excitement had seemingly left me.
But it hasn’t, really. It’s simply taken on another form.
Since my birthday in 1991, only one month after my dad left this world after a five-month battle with cancer, I simply don’t want a big production, or a lot of fuss. I remember my friends on staff at Anixter, where I worked at the time, trying their best to cheer me up with balloons, cake, and the traditional singing of the “Happy Birthday” song. As I stood in the doorway of the break room, and looked around at all the “festive” decorations, my heart ached. I wasn’t “festive.” I was deep in the throes of grief.
And when they started singing, I couldn’t take it. I turned and walked out, trying to hold back the tears…
It was tradition in our family, since Dad was always the first one to rise every morning, that he would be the first to wish us a Happy Birthday. And when we all moved out, and started lives on our own, he would call us, long before we were scheduled to wake up. But it was worth being awakened before dawn, just to hear his voice. There was such comfort in his voice.
But that year, there was no phone call…
I moved to Nashville eight months after I lost my dad, hungry for a fresh start. And through the years, I’ve not wanted a big celebration for my birthday. But I did used to go all out for Christmas, and I’ve attended some amazing New Year’s Eve parties.
But in recent years, I’ve pulled way back, preferring instead to “be” in the moment, and not get caught up in the materialism of the holiday season. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the season, or the special occasions. It’s just that I find every day a special occasion. And spending time with loved ones makes for incredibly precious moments.
I worried for a while that I was becoming a scrooge of sorts, but I’ve come to realize that I’m not. I have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve in my heart every day.
I wake each morning with a prayer of thanks. Before I even open my eyes, I thank God for another day, and for a good night’s sleep. I know there are so many who struggle to get enough sleep, and I’m truly so grateful that I’ve never had trouble falling asleep, and sleeping the whole night through. That is such a gift.
And I thank God for the love I’ve found, in family and friends, and in my work. And I’m reminded that there is no greater love than giving one’s life for others, as His son did for us.
I also pray a special prayer for all my loved ones, and I send love and light to each one of them…
And I pray that I make the best of this new day that I’ve been given, and make the right decisions in all that I do.
I’ve found an incredible peace in my morning prayers.
I’ve come to believe that EVERY day is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, all rolled into one.
And on this day, this first day of a new year, let’s do our best, and make the right decisions, as we go about our lives.
And let’s love each other deeper, and pray for each other, and for our world leaders.
Most of you know that I’m in the music business, and I travel to Memphis once or twice a year, for Blues Foundation events.
One morning in 2008, in a hotel room in Memphis, when I opened my eyes, this is what I saw. And it moved me to my core.
The light coming in between the drapes was breathtaking, and it reminded me that the light comes into us, and through us, and we can pass it on.
Let’s open, and let the light pass through us so we can be the light that this world needs, with our words, our actions, and our love.