Birthdays on social media sites are amazing phenomena. Depending on the number of friends one has the number of "Happy Birthday" wishes one receives can be staggering. Friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers send out a plethora of well wishes. Modern society has a terrific way of acknowledging that the date of one's birth is a special event. Hallmark, American Greetings and other greeting card companies, as well as party stores have capitalized on the birthday extravaganza. Gifts pour in for the birthday honoree, dinners or parties are held in celebration, someone makes a cake from scratch, buys it from a local bakery, or, as is now the fashion, presents the special birthday person and guests with an embarrassing number of elaborately decorated cupcakes. The contemporary world has exalted the date of one's birth, and the traditions abound - which include a special birthday song and blowing out the number of candles on a cake to equal the number of birthdays one is celebrating! It is more than customary to recognize a person for having lived another year! In fact, if one were aware that it is someone's birthday and failed to acknowledge it, it could be considered rude.
Which brings us to Christmas. One of the earliest forms of the word for the Christmas holiday was from the Latin, natalis or natalicium, words used by the Romans to denote what we call a birthday (newadvent.org). See the Latin nasci - to be born. To this very day, the Italian greeting for "Merry Christmas" is Buon Natale, literally - a good birthday, with a full understanding of whose birthday it is and to distinguish it from Buon Compleanno, which is a generic Happy Birthday for any individual.
Now, just imagine that it is your own birthday. People are decorating their homes, baking delicious treats, preparing elaborate feasts, buying gifts for one another, and planning get-togethers - all because it's your birthday - BUT, they fail to acknowledge YOU, or even invite you to their festivities. They pass you by but do not wish you a Happy Birthday, they do not offer you a gift, they sing any number of songs which may or may not recognize you; they celebrate because it's your birthday, but do not include you in the celebrations! Imagine how you would feel!
Wishing someone a happy birthday on their special day is a courtesy extended to just about anyone we know or encounter, including co-workers, clients, and customers. We don't have to have proof, or even believe that this is their birthday in order to offer them a polite birthday greeting - once we become aware that it is their birthday, we don't just wish them a Happy Wednesday, we go the extra mile and say "Happy Birthday" because it's just good manners.
Tomorrow is Christ's birthday. There are Christmas lights, delicacies, gifts under beautifully decorated trees, and families and friends gathering to celebrate. If we have participated in any "holiday-related" cheer, isn't it polite to punctuate it with the correct greeting? Wouldn't it be wonderful to invite the guest of honor to his own birthday party. Welcome Christ into your home - place him at the center of the celebration, thank him, receive him, offer him your heart and enjoy his blessings --- and bless the day with "Merry Christmas!"