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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Learning from a J.W.

Over ten years ago when my husband still worked at a family greenhouse business he had a regular customer who had an interesting perspective about celebrations.  As a Jehovah’s Witness he did not celebrate birthdays.[1]  He explained that as a result of this he gave special honour to anniversaries instead.  He bought roses not only for his wife but for couples that were his friends who had a special day.
   He pointed out that while birthdays celebrate staying alive, an anniversary involves something extra—the effort of staying together and working at a relationship.  So, not only the milestone anniversaries deserve to be marked.  Every anniversary is an achievement of love and cannot be taken for granted.
   Sticking with your spouse is not as common today as it once was.  It stands out and ought to be celebrated by those who are close to the couple.  It’s hurtful when this day is ignored.  A friend recently shared that on her anniversary she especially misses her deceased parents who always made a point of holding such a day in honour.  In contrast, her parents-in-law do not even phone and acknowledge the day.
   Many readers have witnessed dozens of weddings.  These events are full of excitement and joy, but they also involve a duty to track with these couples, encourage them as we have opportunity, and to celebrate their anniversaries one by one.  Maybe it’s time to take a second look at how much value we place on those special days that celebrate commitment.

[1] The only two mentions of birthdays in the Bible have highly negative associations.  The birthday of Pharaoh in Genesis 40 was the occasion of executing his chief baker and a day of feasting.  On the birthday of Herod the Tetrarch in Matthew 14 & Mark 6 there was drunkenness, provocative dancing and a call for the head of John the Baptizer.  This is the main reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays.

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