Twenty-four years ago, a new national holiday was created. It wasn’t something passed by the Congress nor signed by the president – it was far more organic and grass roots. It is an opportunity for our country to come together, and to enjoy our American life, and our celebration of what’s good. I think it’s a wonderful dream, and if it happens to be called “Randy’s Birthday,” then all the more power. Enjoy your holiday today!
So – I’ll admit I was in kind of a hurry. You see, yesterday the boys decided we should go out for a pre-birthday lunch at one of our favorite spots (that Cheri doesn’t really care for…) Now, actually going out to eat has been an ultra-rare event with the pandemic and all, but a trip to HuHot Mongolian Grill kind of trumps it all. As part of the HuHot experience, you take a small bowl (way too small, for my taste) and walk by long serving tables, where you fill the bowl with meats (my favorites are beef and pork), noodles (not too many), vegetables (again, mine are tofu, onions and mushrooms), and then you go to the “sauce table,” where they probably have 20 or more different sauces you can pour on your selection, ranging from soy sauce to molten lava – at least that’s what it tastes like – and as many scoops as you would like. You then move to the giant iron grill, where they take your bowl of stuff and dump it on the sizzling monster, and cook it for you. Plated up, you then go back to your table, and, for us at least, it means to have our very eyeballs sweat with the incredible spicy heat or a pretty good tasting meal.
So, we left the house at 11am – Adam had marked out two hours for his “lunch meeting” before he had another conference call at 1pm. After twice through the line (you can eat all you can shove down your gullet…), we were ready to go. Since we still needed a few things for my wonderful birthday celebration, which was to happen today, we needed to stop by the grocery store. Adam said, “Ok, but I only have until 1pm.” I looked at my watch, and couldn’t believe we had spent, with travel over, about 90 minutes for lunch.
We zipped over to the grocery store, and needed a few things, like bananas, cream cheese, bread, buns and such. The most important thing, however, was the cake. I actually can’t believe it took as much time to decide on what we would do for a cake as it happened this year. Everyone with a birthday gets their own selection, and in years past, Cheri has made angel food, and butter brickle, and most anything else I wanted for my birthday, since I always make her birthday coffee cake…
But this year, with my birthday falling on a Thursday, Cheri was working, and a homemade cake seemed to be way more than what we needed to do. Of course, the boys protested as well, saying they could make one up for me, but honestly, I kind of had a hankering for a store bought cake, all ready to serve and no hassle. I held firm as I moved toward my birthday celebration, and so a store bought cake it was.
The only trouble was, there was not a great selection for some reason, and we were in a hurry. I didn’t want chocolate, thinking I could find a nice lemon, or cherry cake or something like that. No such luck. There was white, chocolate and marble. Whoopee. I looked as quickly as possible at the decorations on the cake, and opted out of the Barbie theme, or the little horses. There in front of me, was a “white cake.” It was white, but behind the plastic dome, you could also see it had a bunch of different colors of frosting. I quick grabbed it. The boys again protested, to which I responded, “You know – I really don’t care – this one will do just fine.” They went and found the candles to go on the cake, and yet other candy confection decorations to go on top. Adam demanded to buy the cake himself, since it would be far out of protocol for me to buy my own.
We bought everything, jumped in the car, and made it back home by 12:50, plenty of time for Adam’s call.
When Cheri came home, the hassle began. I don’t know if you have had three family members team up on you for teasing, but that was my birthday eve activity. Cheri looked at the cake, paused, and then expressed what a pretty cake it was, although there was an underlying smile to it all. The boys piled on, with lots of comments. You see, the cake was very pretty, but when you looked closer, it indeed did seem to have a rainbow of bright colors all over it. My sons asked me if perhaps there was something I needed to reveal to them concerning my gender/sexual preference… I hadn’t seen it, but they were of the opinion that the cake perhaps was meant for someone who needed to make a certain announcement. I won’t go into it anymore, but I just said I thought it was a pretty cake, and we were in a hurry. Cheri just continued to smile, and so this evening, we will bring the cake out, put it on the dining room table, the myriad of candles will be lit, and after swallowing any moisture from my mouth, which is the rule, and then blow out all the candles and celebrate my day.
In case you are curious, there will be a LOT of candles on the cake. I have finally reached the age celebrated in the Beatles’ song that includes the lyrics, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me…” Yes. I am now 64, which you might think would earn me respect and deference, but I guess that’s just crazy talk. Instead, I know I am loved, and cherished, and able to be teased mercilessly for selecting a “pretty cake,” which although is my right, becomes a new part of Cross family history.
I have a picture that is 64 years old. Taken probably a few hours after my birth, I am all swaddled up and held in my mother’s arms, Dad had been assigned to Japan, and so it would be a number of months before he would see me. Mom and I however hit it off great, and for most all the years following, our relationship was wonderful and deep, and full of my appreciation for bringing me into the world at 6:27am January 14, 1957.
I guess I could have been more intentional in picking out a cake. This, however, is a great object lesson for what happens when you accidentally act. You end up paying for it forever, most likely… Still, today is a great day in my history, and I plan/intend to enjoy the entire thing, Blessings to you all as well, and don’t forget to celebrate this holiday!
Word for the day: senescence. Pronounced sin-ESS-ens. It’s a pretty direct Latin word, appropriate for today, and coming from the root senex, meaning “old.” Senescere means “to grow old,” so today, I am a bit more “senescent” than yesterday, but only by a day! Everything that lives senesces a small bit each moment that they are alive, but the most blessed are those who live and senesce for years and years. By the way, in case you were wondering, the word, “senator,” means “old man.” The Senate in Rome was known for having been filled with the wisest, and that meant oldest elders in the country. You have to wonder today if the “wisest” part is being held true…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.