I will love this year.
I still remember the day I called my father to wish him a Happy 55th Birthday.
“Hey, Dad!” I said, “Stay alive with 55!”
“That’s about it,” he chuckled.
It was 1989, and major networks were saturated with the Stay Alive—Drive 55!” advertising campaign. Our nation had been experiencing rising gasoline prices, but the Department of Transportation insisted that its focus was about freeway safety, hoping to minimize high-speed accidents. Television commercials were everywhere, interrupting our favorite shows: “Stay Alive—Drive 55!” Since these public service announcements were everywhere, I thought I was being funny and clever by merging my father’s birthday greeting with a nation-wide slogan. Hilarious!
Today, I am 55. (How did this happen?)
I was born on December 28, 1962—a Friday. My mother began that particular weekend by delivering me, her second of five children. I was one of the babies born in the space between Christmas and New Year’s—a time where most people were catching their breath from the holiday gatherings or gearing up for one.
I grew up believing that December 28th was an unfortunate time of year to be born, but when I eased into adulthood, it didn’t take me long to appreciate the sheer brilliance of being born on this day! It is a relaxed time of year—and family gatherings are more frequent.
My 54th year has been amazing on many levels—I graduated from university and won two significant awards for my writing—but it has also been very painful. Mario and I have both lost dear, close friends. It has been (as all other years have been) bursting with joy and pain, grief and celebration—chock-filled with life.
The “Stay Alive—Drive 55” campaign was designed to encourage drivers to slow down and enjoy their journey. The concept never really caught on for Americans; we tend to speed through our lives, rushing from one place to the other. It is quite easy to forget that along the way there is laughter and miracles in the seemingly mundane and ordinary steps in between.
Today—on my 55th birthday—I will stop and reflect on the journey. It’s actually an amazing one that I share with all of you. Today I told my daughter, Alicia, that I seriously am grateful for the life I have. In fact, I feel undeserving of all the blessings that are in it. I am grateful to God, my family, and friends for loving me.
And I will love this year.
“But as for me, I trust in You.”