I was working as a counselor at the Christian camp that stole my heart when I was seven. I spent many a great birthday with the staff and campers of Camp Carl.
July 24 landed on a Saturday that summer, so I was home from camp for the weekend. On the eve of the big day, I was awakened in the middle of the night to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. From my front yard.
All the girls of the camp staff had gathered together for a middle-of-the-night serenade to ring in my birthday.
(Never mind that I was not sleeping in my bed, so I wasn't actually the first one to hear the singing... my mom had to come find me, wake me, and alert me of this crowd who had already sung through two or three choruses...)
All of them. Twenty girls in my front yard, singing happy birthday at the top of their lungs.
And here's the best part: instead of shooing them away in the name of sleep, my parents invited them in. My crowd of girlfriends filled our living room, and my parents served them cheese curls and popsicles. The gift was more than a song: it became an event.
It's not hard to find college girls who are eager to make a memory after midnight. But it's harder to find parents who are up for it too.
Even now, nearly ten years later, many of my friends still talk about my parents' hospitality and flexibility to welcome this raucous crowd.... Those are my parents for you. Amazing. And so much fun.
(I hope our boys' friends feel the same way about us someday.)