Lost in the Shuffle: Grandma’s Christmas Birthday

by Patti Richter

The Christmas tree of my childhood held 1960’s ornaments—silver orbs with spikes and color-filled depressions. We added strips of foil “icicles” to the tree and pronounced it good. Maybe that’s why our December visits to the grandparents’ house felt like arriving at Disneyland.

Grandma loved to decorate at Christmastime. She adorned her Christmas tree with hand-made beaded ornaments in silver, gold, and pearl. Its branches hung low with the weight of thickly applied “snow.” A plugged-in color-wheel at the base of the tree made everything shimmer. Across the room, the fireplace mantle wore white flannel with red trim, while the hearth served as a barren desert for three Wise Men to traverse on their tall camels enroute to Bethlehem.

The Christmas season caused Grandma to break out of her otherwise practical, conservative self. For years it never occurred to me that her December 22nd birthday gave her an added reason to celebrate.

Our Christmas get-together each year inadvertently overshadowed Grandma’s birthday, though she never seemed to mind. Perhaps as the youngest of ten children she grew up being lost in the shuffle. My family typically brought her a holiday poinsettia to say Happy Birthday.

After Grandpa died, Grandma gave up her Christmas decorating. Her vintage ornaments stayed in old hat boxes in the coat closet. For years afterward, she joined the Christmas Eve gathering at my family’s house.

Living in another state, I missed most of those holiday get-togethers. So, one year, as Grandma’s 90th birthday approached, I could only hope my parents had plans to mark her big day. When they said she would be with them on Christmas Eve, as usual, I began stewing about it. Though I couldn’t be there in person, I wanted to show Grandma how much I cared.

For days I tried to think of the perfect gift but came up empty. Running out of time, I thought of asking the Lord for his suggestion.

That idea may seem silly to some people, even to some believers. However, don’t we, as parents, desire to fulfill the requests of our children just because we care about them, even though their specific needs may not be important to us? Our Father in Heaven feels this way about his children. First Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

Right after making my request to God concerning a gift for Grandma, an idea came: order her a special cake. When I called my mother to inquire about a local bakery, she offered to make a birthday cake instead.

“No thanks, Mom. I want to order one with roses on it,” I said. “I know you’ll be having everyone on Christmas Eve, but could you also invite the family over for cake on Grandma’s birthday?”

Two days before their Christmas gathering, Mom picked up the beautifully decorated cake, and when Grandma arrived later that day, a small circle of family members waited to surprise her. Though she enjoyed having her very own little party, Grandma surprised everyone else when she exclaimed, “This is the first birthday cake I’ve ever had.”

And then I knew for sure that the Lord had directed me to the perfect gift.

This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Has God ever answered a specific request like that for you or a loved one?


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