Of Birthdays as Blessings for Others

birthday blessings

By: MaryRose Cobarde Candare

Since we were little and quite honestly no matter our age, cakes and candles remain symbolic fixtures of birthday celebrations.

As Moms, we have in our pockets more than a few unique ways of celebrating our little ones on their birthday. We greet them with decorations, sneaky presents and balloon avalanches as they awake to their day. We let them choose the meals for the day and grant every wish possible, at times stretching beyond budget. The birthday crown, treasure-hunt-for-gifts and most imaginative themes are gestures of joy and celebration we shower on our little ones.

We love them so much we even give them presents on our own birthday. On this note, we step into the meaningful plane of giving in order to witness joy.

As a mother of 2 grade-schoolers, I, too get excited whenever my children’s birthdays roll in. I would quickly make simple plans in part to delight them but also to use the occasion as an opportunity to teach them to share delight with others; often needy strangers.

Each year, on their birthday a small portion of what would have been part of our humble celebration, we set aside for random acts of kindness. I would tell them to celebrate with those who would otherwise not experience a treat. There were the street children one year, sick children on another. Children’s eyes beamed with joy holding simple goody bags. And the balloons never looked as colorful as when they adorned hospital wards. Then there were the elderly; poor and uncared for – vendors and garbage collectors. Their frail bodies somehow perk up with the unexpected lift from strangers. The things we give are so little (possibly inconsequential in the view of some) but they come with great love.

Charitable giving on birthdays; celebrating for a cause and similar traditions hold such inspiration for me. And being that “charity begins at home,” often I find that the first people I want to make happy on my birthday are my dear parents. Present for parents, this is another tradition that makes the celebration worthwhile.

Just as we celebrate in different ways, we can give in meaningful ways. This year, as my birthday draws near, I put together a list of wishes. They are all for other people many of whom I have never even met. The great thing about these wishes is that they do not cost much. They are easily doable on any given day although I guarantee you, some might find them corny or mushy but that is hardly unbearable. I can live with such hazards of the ‘giving talk’ just as I relish messages from friends who privately share about doing the same this and that in their own way.

Wish List:

  • Presents for parents: blooms and warmest hugs for my ailing mother and a treat for my dear father
  • hugs and kisses for my husband and kids (“for” not “from,” …giving remember? But of course these presents really gives the giver)
    healthy treat for street children
  • warm food and even warmer hugs for homeless, old people
  • balloons and books for sick children
  • a bottle of water and some income for old vendors (If you have a bit of spare cash, buy candies or kakanin or banig or any other item being sold by vendors toiling under the punishing sun. Buy even when you don’t need what they are selling. The vendors could really use the meager income as well as the sense of dignity from work)
  • chat with the cleaner in your school or office or the street asking about their family; thanking them for their work
  • send out messages or cards to those who are going through tough times (even beyond family and friends)

The concept is quite simple – kindness for others in lieu of a gift. At the risk of sounding excessively sentimental or even preachy, I send out these wishes believing that they are adequately worthwhile and even necessary. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any children dying of hunger or old people being neglected and abused. But this is the condition of our troubled world. This is why I am in awe of kind-doers who shed light and ease burdens. They share their tales for nothing but the hopes of sustaining the acts of goodwill. I figured, if you’re going to get a kick over something, it might as well be something that helps another person, even momentarily. If you are going to copy someone, copy those who serve others with joy. Don’t be cynical about the motives of people helping other people. Deep down, give without a hope for praise or reward. Giving itself is the greatest gift.

The famous fable writer Aesop puts in simple terms: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” And to this, I humbly add that the business of kindness is everyone’s business, birthday or not. ☺

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MaryRose Cobarde Candare or MaryMom as she is fondly called by family and friends is a hands-on, working mother of 2 harmonizing her love for her children with her passion for writing and teaching as forms of service to others.


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