we celebrated our third son’s first birthday with the orphans of hospicio de san jose. this has become a tradition in our family. we almost always celebrate with strangers, soon-to-be friends.
it was a rainy day. we were expecting people to have some difficulty going to the island orphanage. the storm was likely to cause flooding around the area.
it was a good day, nonetheless, because the rains kept the venue cool.
with most of my friends gone abroad permanently or out of town, i felt sad that the usual group would not be around to celebrate with us.
i sent out the invitation, telling people that aside from being a birthday party, it would also be a thanksgiving celebration of sorts. there were the usual questions, thanks for what? mainly it is a thankfulness for everyday things… of comforts and trials… of life lessons… of grace and miracles.
some thought it was a mission: a donation of food, clothes, and toys. they came prepared to get their hands dirty in work jeans and white shirts. they were surprised to see a stage set up for a show, with food and foodcarts, and big boxes of gifts. “not a mission?” they asked. “no, a celebration!” i said, “so where are your kids?”
and they laughed saying, we were not expecting a party. we did not bring the kids because we were worried they might catch something here.
catch what? happy thoughts? because there were a lot of those floating around that day.
when the day ended, some asked, “so how do you go about setting up an event like this?” it’s like any big party. but instead of selected, screened invited guests, you end up sharing your blessings with those who need a sprinkle of sunshine in their lives… orphans, widows, the physically challenged and differently-abled.
it is my wish that my children, in the future, would realize how many people they have made happy on their birthdays. that even before they grasped the concept of sharing, they have already experienced its ultimate joy.
and i want them to learn this most secret of secrets:
you cannot out-give the universe. whatever you give freely, with love, and with a little pain, always come back to you more.