What day is it anyhow?
Did you ever awaken after a deep sleep and be just a little bewildered about what day it is? It happens to me every so often. I open my eyes and think, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?” Or “What is today’s date, do I have somewhere I have to be today?”
Yesterday I crawled out of bed at my usual time – early morning before dawn – to go walking with my life-long friend. Upon awakening, I knew it was Wednesday and I needed to don my walking clothes.
But what I didn’t know until I glanced out the window was that it was snowing. We walk no matter what the weather brings unless there is a deluge of rain, so I bundled up and slipped on my hiking boots.
After returning from our morning jaunt, which was so peaceful with snow gently falling, I looked at the date on my calendar because even though I knew it was Wednesday, I didn’t remember the actual date.
Seeing that it was January 9th, I remembered that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. And just like that (snaps fingers), memories of Grandpa came back to me.
Grandpa died when I was nine, so my remembrances of him aren’t plentiful, but I do have some treasured and humorous memories of him, like when snow fell in huge, fluffy snowflakes, he would comment, “Look at those big cakes coming down!”
I also remember stories about him that my mother – his only child – told me. Stories that happened long before I was born.
My grandfather was born back in the 1870’s (yes, you read that correctly). Having a birthday in January as he did, chances are there would be a lot of snow on the ground and it would be blustery cold on his special day.
Yesterday’s snowfall on the ninth day of January in the year 2019, 143 years after my grandfather was born, reminded me of a sweet family story about Grandpa’s birthday one year.
My grandparents were married in 1900; my mother was born 19 years later. Since she remembered this birthday story about her father, I know it was sometime in the 20’s or early 30’s but I don’t know exactly when.
Grandpa’s birthday was on a Sunday that year and my Grandmother, who was a queen of hospitality, invited many friends and family members to their home to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday after church. In that particular year, some fortunate folks owned automobiles, but some still traveled by horse and buggy or on foot.
The day of Grandpa’s birthday party, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars had a hard time traversing the country roads from church to my grandparents’ home for the party. So all of the invited guests walked through the snow and cold, some for miles, to get there.
And some of them carried pies on their journey. See, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of cake but oh, he did love pie. So Grandma asked ladies to bring pies so she could cut a piece of pie from each one, arrange them on a big plate in a circular fashion to resemble one huge pie, and present it to Grandpa for his birthday treat.
His eyes lit up when he saw his birthday pie consisting of all of those different kinds of pies. And I suppose the “big cakes” of snow continued to fall as the party continued.
I wonder in amazement about several aspects of this story. First of all, the resilience of those who lived before us comes to my mind. Snowfall didn’t stop them from attending my grandfather’s party. They trudged through deep snow carrying pies and thought nothing of it, making the best of a bad situation. Now we seem to panic when the slightest bit of snow falls.
They could have said let’s not go, it’s snowing too much, but they didn’t. They could have decided it just was too much trouble, but they didn’t. I wonder would we walk through deep snow and blustery weather just to go to a birthday party?
No doubt they meant what they said when they agreed to attend, no matter that the snow piled up high all around. They knew the meaning of the word commitment. Are we still as committed to following through with our promises today? I wonder.
Secondly, how generous they were to all bring pies, carrying them while trudging through snow, to surprise my grandfather. Those folks were so willing to go out of their way to bring a slice of happiness to my grandpa.
Happiness that didn’t come in a wrapped, expensive gift but instead in a home-baked goody. Why do we place so much emphasis on monetary gifts we give or receive instead of just sheer thoughtfulness? Why do we think happiness comes with an expensive price tag?
And finally, this story reminds me that often times we encounter a “blizzard” of unforeseen circumstances in life. But we must trudge through the deep “snow” and make our way to where we need to be, no matter what.
And when we finally arrive, there is something worth achieving.
A piece of happiness. A slice of joy. A portion of gladness. A wedge of bliss.
Grandpa’s birthday story is enough to make me want to eat pie during a blizzard and be thankful for both the blizzard and the pie.
“You don’t really get Jesus saying very often there’ll be pie in the sky when you die. He’s really talking about now and today, and it’s supposed to be like that. You’re supposed to delight in what’s right in front of you.” ~ Greg Boyle