the land of no birthdays

Written by Crystal Rowe

Crystal has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her and is passionate about serving others in the name of Christ. Crystal is married to her perfect match, D and is Mommie to A and the two sweetest kitties on earth.

June 7, 2011

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you all ….
Happy birthday to you!

As we sang these familiar words, tears formed in the woman’s eyes.

But it’s not my birthday, she said.

I gently responded to her, That’s okay. Today we’re celebrating all of your birthdays!

She couldn’t remember the last time anyone wished her a happy birthday. She had forgotten what birthday cake tasted like. When we asked what her favorite birthday memory was, she couldn’t remember a good birthday. Ever. In her 46 years of life.

We ate cupcakes and played games. Shared stories and laughs. And as I walked away from the incredible celebration, I couldn’t help but realize how important our birthdays are.

Birthdays have always been big celebrations in my family. I don’t really know the reasons why my mom made such a big deal of birthdays, but I haven’t stopped the tradition as I’ve gotten older. When I hear someone has a birthday coming up, I’m the first one to ask what their plans are. What kind of cake are they going to have? Are they going to have a party? A special dinner? A celebration of any kind?

Affectionately known as The Birthday Girl, I know how to plan a birthday celebration. And no birthday is really a birthday without a cake. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods for your birthday and have no plans, just give me a call and we’ll celebrate your big day in style!

So what’s so important about a birthday anyway?

When we celebrate a person’s birthday, we celebrate the day they came into the world. For just a single day each year, the world really is all about me. It’s all about the incredible gift of life God has given us. On that day, we remember just how special we are. We remember how much people love us. How much God loves us.

Can you imagine not knowing what birthday cake tastes like?

Can you imagine not having one day where you feel like you are the most important person in the world?

I can’t.

Our simple act of recognizing the importance of birthdays changed a single woman’s life. She felt special. She felt loved. Maybe, for the first time in her life, she saw herself as a beloved child of God. As someone that mattered.

So remember your birthday. Remember the birthdays of those around you. And every once in a while, celebrate a random person’s birthday. Just because. You never know what kind of an impact it will make.


  1. Paul Steinbrueck

    Crystal, you’ve piqued my curiosity. What’s the rest of the story? Who’s the woman and why were you celebrating her birthdays?

    • Crystal Rowe

      it’s actually a combination of stories. My husband and I take a group of kids to an urban mission camp each summer in Knoxville TN. Last year, he was part of a birthday party at a nursing home – the woman in the story is from his visit.

      Yesterday, I was part of a birthday party at a rehabilitation center. The reflections are my own after knowing his story and having my own experience.

      We bake cupcakes, bring games, and just spend time hanging out with the residents. We sang happy birthday, enjoyed cake together, and just spent time getting to know one another. It was truly an incredible experience.

  2. Melissa Brotherton

    I could not imagine a land with no birthdays! Birthdays are a big deal in my family, for all of the reasons you mentioned above. In fact, my family jokes about my birthday “season” Heehee! I think this is such a great ministry, and what a way to celebrate those who feel forgotten!

    • Crystal Rowe

      I love a birthday “season”! I talked to someone recently who celebrates birthday hanukkah … small celebrations for 7 days with a big celebration on the 8th day (her actual birthday). I loved that idea!!

    • @bibledude

      dude… i totally get ‘birthday season’! i usually do different tiers… birth DAY is the biggest, then birthday WEEK is a series of special activities, and then birthday MONTH is a special time of recognition and talking about how cool birthday week will be. by the way… Sept 28 in case you were wondering.

      and i totally agree on your comment about the ministry Crystal is involved in…

  3. Anonymous

    I try to make my birthday celebration go on for at least a week…and make a BIG DEAL out of birthdays.  Great post!  Did you ever read Tony Campolo’s story about throwing a birthday party for a hooker?  It’s so good.


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the land of no birthdays

by Crystal Rowe time to read: 2 min