Unless you're my family, that is. Most years, my family and friends go above and beyond to ensure that my birthday is special and distinct from the seasonal whirl, often turning my birthday into a birth week.
This year they outdid themselves with thoughtful Ruth-centric gifts: books, bacon, coffee, cheese, chocolates, imported packs of Tim Tams, a set of Hogwarts socks (Ravenclaw!), and -- best of all -- my very own framed portrait of Civil War heartthrob Joshua Chamberlain!
Yes, you read that correctly.
That's just it. A portrait of Chamberlain isn't a generic placeholder gift like a scented candle or a coffee mug. It isn't a gift that just anyone would randomly scratch up.
This is a most specific gift -- a gift that only a friend or loved one would know to give.
Those who know us best give the best gifts.
They know our wants, needs, and desires and are willing to sacrifice time, effort, and funds to satisfy them.
In this way, our loved ones reflect God's love to us.
Better than anyone, he knows our deepest needs. He's always known; and, better still, he's always planned to meet them.
Our greatest need -- the need to be reconciled to him -- he's met in himself. He "took his own medicine," as Dorothy Sayers put it, by becoming human and enduring the Father's wrath poured out on the cross.
During December, we commemorate his birth, a birth infinitely more precious than any other.
The birth of One who is the source of all life, both physical and spiritual.
The One who made posible the real birthday of our lives.
Thee, God, I come from, to thee go,
All day long I like fountain flow
From thy hand out, swayed about
Mote-like in thy mighty glow.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918
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