In November, the extended Asercion Clan celebrated the first birthday of Mama Fe and Papa Paul’s fourth great-grandchild—Nathaniel.
Three and a half decades ago, Nathan’s Daddy, Andrew, celebrated his first birthday. Certain milestones in the childhood years of each of my nephews and nieces stand out, but for some reason, out of all the 1st birthdays, it’s Andrew’s that I remember most.
Andrew and his mommy and daddy came down to Virginia Beach from Michigan. Mama Fe and Papa Paul hosted the celebration in our family home. It was standing room only, with plenty of food to satisfy plenty of loved ones who came to wish Little Andrew Happy Birthday.
The birthday celebrant wasn’t happy when it came to his gift opening. We had to wake him from his nap. Even though he didn’t cry, his sleepy, very serious, almost frowning face let everyone know he was not amused. That is until Mommy Koala and Baby (later named “Ryan”). I still have a vivid memory of the smile that broke out on one-year-old Andrew’s face when he saw the plush toys.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Like his Daddy, Nathan was not a happy camper. Perhaps he was tired. Or maybe it was the noise. But what both celebrations had in common was plenty of food to satisfy all the loved ones who came to wish Little Nathan Happy Birthday.
And it really was a day filled with plenty of fun. The hall was transformed into Sesame Street. Mommy Aiden and Daddy Andrew are both fun-loving and wanted to make sure everyone, both young and old, had a good time.
The little ones played a new activity to see which child could say the celebrant’s name the longest in the phrase, “Happy Birthday Nathan—iel!” The Jarnagin brothers tied at the shortest amount of time of half a second.
Of course there was the well-loved (or not so loved) musical chairs. It came down to one little boy and Big Cousin Jonah. When the other boy won, Jonah shrugged his shoulders and then showed his big heart by offering a congratulatory handshake to his opponent.
Then there was the dancing. Cousin Joseph showed off his love of music and good sense of timing. He had a great time running with the big kids in his Cookie Monster shirt. And he did have some “COOKIES!!”
The adults also had their fun. They played a version of musical chairs that paired husbands and wives, where the husbands sat down when the music stopped, and the wives had to find their respective husbands and sit on their lap. Several women pushed their opponents out of the way, and one wife tackled her own husband (not sure how that happened).
Then came the singing of “Happy Birthday” around the cake. Even with the music booming in the background, Cousin Indie’s voice rose loudly above everyone else’s. Enjoying Indie’s “solo,” Uncle Dem had the kids sing “Happy Birthday” multiple times. Indie gave it her all every time.
But poor Nathan. He seemed to enjoy it best when he was in the foyer with Cousin Abby—away from the happy, noisy party. He couldn’t even enjoy his smash birthday cake. But because of him, because we celebrated his turning one, we all had a grand time.
A year ago, Yahweh brought Nathan into our world. And with him came an indescribable happiness that continues to fill the lives of his parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties. You can’t help but smile when you see him—he looks like a Precious Moments child (as pointed out, rightly so, by Auntie Miriam). Everything about him is cute and, well, precious. From his toothy smile to his mad stare, his piercing “cockatiel” screech to his soft cry, and his toy-soldier walk to his Tigger bounce. Watching him reminds you how blessed we all are to have him in our lives.
With everything wrong going on in this world, celebrating Nathan gave us the time to focus on everything that is good and right.
Andrew and Aiden: Thank you for bringing us together to celebrate your First-born’s first birthday. You created a place where we could put aside our stress and worries and hurts and just enjoy, even if just for a little while. Thank you for allowing us into your world as you raise Nathan. He is such a blessed Little One. He has parents and grandparents who love Yahweh and who will teach him to love Yahweh and Yeshua, too. You surround him with your faith and love—the best gifts he will ever receive.
Nathan: When you get older, you will hear how you cried when they lit your birthday candle and how everyone had fun except you. Your birthday party will be one of my precious memories because, Little One, you are precious to me.
As the season of Thanksgiving becomes a memory itself, I want to remember every blessing that Yahweh has given to my family and me. Each birthday celebration, each family gathering, each moment spent with our loved ones—those are all gifts from Yahweh.
And you, Little Nathan, are definitely a Precious gift sent from above.
Today is Papa Paul’s birthday. Your Daddy is known as “Little Papa” because he looked like Papa Paul when he was little. So I’ll call you “Little Papa Junior,” even though you don’t look like him. I know Papa, and Mama, would have loved you and your cousins so much. Praise Yahweh we have the hope that we will celebrate Eternity with Mama and Papa when Yeshua comes again.
So, Little One, thank you for letting your Grandpa Zee, Uncle Zeek and me be part of your first year of life. We look forward to all your years to come.
Love, Nina Nina
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights.” (James 1:17, NIV)