Article by Phoenix writer Isabel Connolly ’23:
It was a 73º sunny day, perfect weather for a birthday. The sixteenth birthday has been heralded as some important stepping stone in an adolescent’s life. It’s this wonderful year where everything is supposed to happen.
With it comes the idea of sweet sixteens and big parties. I have never been the type to love all the attention on me. As much as I’d love to wear a pretty dress, I was not willing to go through the hassle of planning a party to do so. I still wanted to do something with my friends, but the problem with planning anything on my actual birthday was that this year it landed on a Sunday.
Saturday would be a great day to have a birthday, but Sunday not so much. Instead of being able to sleep in, I had to wake up around eight to get to Church on time. If I had tried to plan anything big that day it would have been only half the day and half a celebration. At least that’s how I saw it and so I contented myself with planning to do something later.
I had a perfect plan. I’d wake up, go to church, go to the movies, and then have cake and presents. The next weekend my friends and I would go on a fun trip to celebrate properly. However, as soon as I started asking my friends what weekend they’re free, I started to realize that there seemed to be no good time. Finding time for a big trip seemed impossible. I sat in Church stressing about it.
Then came the homily. This priest was usually a good homilist, so when he mentioned being thankful it piqued my interest. That was just what I needed, a reminder to be thankful and focus on the positives rather than sit here worrying. I knew I should be grateful on my birthday.
That was what I was expecting the homily to be. Then the priest said we must be thankful for the gifts God has given other people. Other people? Here I was, all ready to tell myself ‘be thankful, you have been given so many gifts,’ but instead I was about to hear a sermon about being thankful for all God has given everyone else.
It was my birthday and on that day of all days being grateful for others’ gifts seemed so foreign an idea.
I should be grateful though. Others’ gifts can better society. The gifts of doctors are why we have advances in medicine. The gifts of our military are the reason we are protected. Yet this is a difficult lesson to hear on your birthday. I selfishly thought it was my day to celebrate and be grateful for the gifts I’ve been given, not others.
On my birthday, I had to sit there and teach myself an entirely different perspective. To be grateful for the fact my friends are incredible artists. To be grateful for the fact the choir at Church is not as tone-deaf as I am. It’s a difficult pill to swallow and a difficult mindset to follow. I walked out of Mass attempting to put this to work as I opened my cards and ate my cake that night. I would end up having a great birthday with a gorgeous cake and amazing presents. However, one gift I wasn’t expecting to get was this new mindset of gratitude.