On this Sunday of Joy during Advent, our children led us in a Posada, which is a tradition from Mexico and other Latin American countries. We had three “inns” set up around the church and the children traveled, following Mary and Joseph, to each door. They knocked and said, in unison, “We must find a place to stay. We are weary and the journey has been long. Perhaps these kind people will let us stay here.” Then half of the congregation sang, “In the name of heaven, I ask you for shelter for my wife is tired and she can go no farther.” The innkeeper then answered the door and told them they were not welcome because they were strangers and not known and the other half of the congregation sang, “You cannot stay here. You are a stranger. You are not welcome here. You must go away.”
We repeated the scene twice, but then they came to the door in front of the altar and this time the innkeeper welcomed them and we all rejoiced. Then the children came down the center aisle and I realized they each had something in their hand given them by the innkeeper: sugar cookies. To paraphrase Ginger’s benediction at the end of the service — what better way to capture what this season means: Christ is born and have a cookie!
The end of the service was the beginning of celebration for me because today was my fifty-fourth birthday. I knew Ginger had things planned, but I didn’t know what any of them were because our tradition is for the birthday to be a day of surprises. What unfolded was a day of food and friendship, or affirmation and celebration that was astounding. Our former foster daughter, Julie came down from Boston with her girlfriend to be a part of the weekend. We had beignets for breakfast, Turkish food for lunch, Fullsteam beer and various snacks for dinner, and then closed out the night at the restaurant where I used to work. In the gaps along the way, I checked Facebook to find one happy wish from every chapter of my life. Here, at the end of the day, I feel connected, celebrated, affirmed, and loved, loved, loved.
When I have a chance to watch awards shows on television, I often think how wonderful it is for those who act or sing for a living to have chosen a career where people are intentional about handing out awards and affirmation. I wish every career path offered such a chance for that kind of recognition, and for everyone to say thank you to those who have helped them get where they are. My birthday felt like my award show today. And I am filled with gratitude.