A New Take on a Lifetime of Birthdays

My birthday falls during the Christmas season. It seems fairly common for those of us with December birthdays to grumble a bit about our birthdays being overshadowed by the holidays.

December is when everyone is buying presents and our resources get stretched with purchases and preparations and food and travel. So we grumble about birthday presents being wrapped in Christmas paper or being designated “for birthday AND Christmas.”

And, being a twin, I always threw in the jab of one gift being labeled for birthday and Christmas — to share!

twin girls celebrating birthday with cake

When I was growing up, my birthday presents were dolls and games and toys, with some occasional article of clothing thrown in. They were usually somewhat frivolous things; there was nothing I absolutely needed.

While I didn’t expect the same would be true for Kayirangwa, the child I sponsor in Rwanda, given her circumstances, I still expected that the birthday money I designated for her would go toward one or two small “just for fun” items.

A month or two after her 9th birthday, Kayirangwa wrote that the birthday money I sent her had gone to buy a chicken to provide eggs for her family. She was so excited about that chicken!

The following year I sent birthday money again, and received a picture of my sweet Kayirangwa with a goat intended to provide milk for her and her family.

At this time I was also supporting Ambar. She wrote that my birthday gift had been used to buy socks and shoes for her and her brother — and how happy they both were to have them.

No dolls. No games. No toys. Instead, these children cheerfully received items they needed and things they could share with their families. I had never considered myself particularly selfish, but their thankfulness at receiving these necessities for themselves and their families has humbled me.

Recently, the timing of birthdays came up again and a friend asked if I felt slighted by having a birthday so close to Christmas. I confessed,

older twin girls celebrating birthday with cake

“I used to think so. But then I sponsored Kayirangwa. I have always had a thousand times more than needed. I have never been slighted.”

My Compassion children humble me and teach me the meaning of thankfulness — and the right way to think of birthdays.

Now I tell family and friends that if they have an inkling to get me something for my birthday, an email will suffice. Give the money to a child in poverty and bless an entire family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Brooke has been a Compassion sponsor since 2007. She currently sponsors Kayirangwa in Rwanda and Litzy in Ecuador, and corresponds with Jose in the Dominican Republic. She has a personal blog at www.amylbrooke.blogspot.com

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3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sarah December 18, 2011

    My birthday is in July… but personally I’m thinking I might ask my parents to sponsor a child in my name instead of getting me anything. I always have a terrible time thinking of gifts I want anyway. A friend of mine recently “got” his son a sponsored child for Christmas. I thought this was a great idea.

  2. Mary December 13, 2011

    This is very true- thank you for sharing!

  3. Gail December 11, 2011

    We get so ungrateful for the much we have and they are so thankful for the little they have. We learn so much from our sponsor kids I wonder who gets the most out of the relationship – us or them.

    Thanks for sharing your story Amy and reminding us to be thankful.

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