Today is Candace’s birthday! Hooray!
Why is this pastor writing about someone’s birthday, you ask? Well, this isn’t just any birthday, this is Candace’s birthday — and Candace is a doll.
We’ve been celebrating Candace’s birthday since our eldest daughter was two years old. One day, in early October, she informed my wife, “Next Thursday is Candace’s birthday.”
Candace was a special doll, presented to our daughter when her little brother came home for the first time from the hospital, so she would have a baby to take care of, too. And so, when Candace’s Mommy declared that next Thursday was Candace’s birthday, HER Mommy wrote it on the calendar to remind her, and next Thursday, Candace’s birthday, we had cake, candles, and a party.
Every year in December, a new calendar is purchased, and my wife goes through to copy all the birthdays, anniversaries, etc, from the old to the new calendar — and Candace’s birthday is copied, too. Every year, we celebrate.
Usually, every doll / plush toy / stuffed animal in the house is brought to sit on the end of the dining room table for the birthday celebration. Sometimes, the kids arranged for some of the dolls and other toys to bring gifts for Candace. Sometimes, the dolls and “snugglies” dress up especially for the event.
This year, we had the privilege of having guests with us to share the celebration, so all the toys except Candace had to sit in the next room while we ate dinner, sang “Happy Birthday,” blew out candles, and ate cupcakes. But whatever the circumstances, Candace’s birthday is not forgotten.
So is this one of those “Just for Fun” articles I write occasionally? Not this time.
Of course, there’s no great theological significance, in and of itself, in a doll’s imaginary birthday. But even a doll’s birthday can be celebrated to the glory of our God, if we’ll stop to think about who He is and give Him thanks for all we are and have. So I’ll contribute a few verses to ponder as we think about a doll’s birthday.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
It is our God who gives us the ability to have dolls, to bake and enjoy cakes. He is the One who has equipped me with the ability to earn a living to support my family and buy the things we enjoy as we celebrate Candace’s birthday. He gives every good gift, not only the big important ones, but also the little ones that give us so much pleasure.
I Timothy 6:17
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
God gives us richly all things to enjoy. He wants us to enjoy things like Candace’s birthday. He is not an austere, harsh God who loves asceticism. He is a loving Father who delights in things like Candace’s birthday, and wants us to thank Him in these things. This is why even the things that we call “fun” can be enjoyed in perfect conformity to the following verses:
I Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Of course, we could just sing “Happy Birthday” to Candace once a year, and leave it at that. We could skip all the dolls and the candles and everything. But it is actually our Father’s plan and joy that, if we believe something to be worth doing, we do it enthusiastically:
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
(Yes, I know that verse is an instruction to servants to do their work well. But it is part of a broad pattern in Scripture. Scripture endorses enthusiasm in many ways, speaking of cheerful giving, fervent prayer, rejoicing in marriage, joy in childbirth, etc, etc.)
When I think about Candace’s birthday, I think about those verses, but even more, I think of something else. I think about a mother wanting to bring joy to her little daughter. I think about family love, about shared experiences and joys AND family traditions that bring loved ones together.
Our kids always loved Candace’s birthday, because it was a “together” thing for us. It was silly, it was fun, but mainly it was US, our family, together.
Our kids are older now. Our youngest will be voting and driving before all that long (I’m not sure which of those two facts is scariest 🙂 ). We have two daughters across an ocean. Last year, on Candace’s birthday, another was in Asia.
But if you ask each what is special about 8 October, they would remember Candace, wherever they are. Whatever their situation, for that moment they’d be back home, with their dolls and their “snugglies” at the dining room table, singing happy birthday to a doll. Every one of our family, when they read this article, will be smiling and remembering those birthdays. It’s a part of our love for each other, a small and silly part of it maybe, but still very real.
And that “human” love of a family is not really human, it is divine. Like every other good thing in this world, it came from the hand of our loving Father. He’s the One who gave us love, who made us creatures who know how to love, who taught us what love is and how it works, who taught us to value it. He’s the One who gave a mother a desire to delight her two-year old child, and who gave her the ability to come up with this idea to do it.
The One who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” is the One who invented the family, invented human love and human joy, for He Himself is love and joy, and He delights in sharing those things with us. Sin came into His creation and marred those things, but He works in the hearts of His people to restore love and joy:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….
More than anything else, when I think of Candace’s birthday, I think of that verse. And I give thanks to the Lord who gave the love of a family, and who works to restore that love in His people, even when sin has done its damage.
So, Happy Birthday, Candace…
…and Thank You to our Lord and God for these small blessings that brighten our days!