Tag Archive: birthday party

basking in the afterglow

of an evening

of friendship-enduced revelry

time spent

words gifted

laughs shared

wine supped

memories dusted off and paraded in front of the crowd

eyebrows raised

knowing glances

mischievous smiles

an unexpected performance

laughter unleashed

stories lovingly exchanged

moments carefully communicated

heart warmed

resolve revisited

passion fired up

milestone acknowledged

but still there is work to be done…

…and a life to be lived out well.


my wife, tbV, and i have a running gag where i tell her things i want at my funeral and she tells me to “write them down cos there’s so many and i won’t remember them all.”

most recently, it was the necessity of playing my two favourite music videos [and happiness-creating-machines – in my life anyways] the wildly popular Ylvis, ‘What does the fox say?” and the actor-filled satirical mess of Mumford’s ‘Hopeless Wanderer’ with Jason Bateman et al playing the band members in ridiculousness. [if you somehow have been away from planet earth in 2013 and missed either of those you can catch up over here and here]

and clearly somewhere along the line a boob cake [no, that’s not a typo, i am not talking about a cake honouring my stuffed dolphin, No_boob, okay that may have been a typo] got added to the mix, probably cos of my controversial tendencies and desire to make multiple people go ‘Um?’ at festive [or not so festive?] gatherings.

i have also always dreamed of being alive at my funeral – you know, one of those unexplained mysteries and somehow there was a misdiagnosis and the raccoon stampede didn’t completely finish me off as previously imagined, and the coffin is open and i get to hear what everyone says about me… [the enhanced version cos clearly people tend to say nicer-than-real things about people who have died so it’s always hard to tell] and then jump out at the end and go, ‘Wah, just kidding, I’m actually still alive, let’s all have some boob cake!’ 

funerals have always bummed me out by the nature of the fact that the person needing to hear all the stuff being said about them is dead.

and so, in the week when i turned 40, my amazing wife, knowing all these things, decided to skip the part where i die and give me a whole bunch of the things i have always wanted…

# She gathered together some of my favourite people on the planet [well those in Cape Town/Stellenbosch where we are at the moment of birthdayage].

# She created a space for them to share dodgy stories from my past [dodgy if you didn’t know and understand the context or apparently if you did] and also things they appreciated about me or saw in me [which was deeply moving and inside crying for sure].

# She managed to get three of my friends to do their own re-enactment of Mumford’s ‘Hopeless Wanderer’ slightly changing it to ‘Homeless Wanderer’ to make it a little more appropriate and somehow managed to get my best school buddy Duncan Houston in dreads with a pizza-box-made guitar for the most fun at a party since his dad gave us all an etymology lesson at Dunc’s 21st, complete with the banjo bit [my favourite part] and an ‘instrument’ smashing at the end.

# She also somehow managed to get my best college friend, who i used to call ‘Saint Mandy’ to her dismay, to make for me a boob cake. Like a cake, but with boobs on the top, made of cake. Ohmygosh. What a moment!

Best funeral ever!

i especially liked the bit where i didn’t have to be dead to be there… although i did try and slice my thumb off in the post-party cleanup while trying to wash a particularly hectic knife. Knife – 1, Brett’s Thumb – 0 [honourable mention to Brett’s thumbernail for stopping the hastily advancing blade]

so what an incredible evening and i will go so far as saying it was awesome because God was definitely in the centre of conversations and a great prayer time they did for me.

[and what an incredible wife, thankx lady, now we will have to zero that funeral list and start again]

which brings me back to the title of this blog: would Jesus have a boob cake? and my answer is absolutely not.

however, i don’t personally believe Jesus would have a Facebook account either [He may have, but watching His life through the gospels He tended to be more of a people person and often chose to interact with individuals over crowds and so i think if He was physically around today that He would more likely be found in coffee shops, mall benches, beachfronts and walking through the streets of the local African township.]

at the same time, i don’t think Jesus would not want me to be on Facebook [feels like it is suited to my particular gifting and i try to use it as a tool to connect and befriend and love and encourage and challenge]

also i don’t personally believe that Jesus would play field hockey, but think he is okay with me playing field hockey… although not when i lose my temper and start chirping people sarcastically or become a bad sport and start blaming the ref for a moment that occurred because of my bad fitness or lack of skills. i think He likes the way it brings me into contact and friendship with people who might be outside of the church, as long as i love them well and treat them with respect.

and so on… seeing a trend here? What Would Jesus Do? was perhaps not the most helpful marketing strategy for the church – but What Would Jesus Want Me To Do? [too long for a bracelet, i get it, how about a belt?] or even ‘How does Jesus want me to live?’ – well, lots more accuracy in that. And i feel like Colossians 3.17 and 23 give some good guidance for that:

17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

so no, Jesus would not have had a boob cake, i am pretty sure of that one… but i do think He would have been more than happy with the gathering that we had going last nite and so huge and special thankx to everyone who came and also everyone who helped make it happen. best birthday party ever. [so far]


This article first appeared in The Mercury on 27 June 2011 [and arrived in my inbox this morning]

Hope n. the feeling that events will turn out for the best.

I recently attended a small birthday party and Hope showed up. I wasn’t necessarily expecting her to be there, but that’s Hope for you; she always arrives when you least expect her.

She appeared suddenly and silently. It was almost as if she ‘spirited’ into being – like a character from a science fiction movie. She was very beautiful – radiant in fact – but some might have missed her arrival because here in South Africa we’re not that good at spotting Hope. Like beauty, she exists in the eyes of the beholder.

And this is the conundrum with Hope. On the one hand, she is a lady that would never force herself on anyone. On the other hand, we need her in order to survive. Without her, we quickly slip into despair and hopelessness and insightful thought, empathy and creative energy disappear. Hope is as essential to human life as oxygen. Starved of Hope we wither and die.

Hope presents herself in all kinds of situations. Sometimes she shows up at the simplest of events; the scene of a kind word spoken or a helping hand given. On this day, she arrived at a kid’s birthday party at a family home in Glenwood, Durban. A little girl was turning one and family and friends had been invited to join the celebration.

As with most first birthday parties, it came complete with balloons, decorations, juice and a sibling who was stung by a bee just as the cake arrived. It was all fairly typical children’s party fare – except for one or two things.

The little girl celebrating her first 12 months on earth didn’t begin life in this lovely Glenwood home, or even at nearby St. Augustine’s Hospital. She began life on a dirt road behind a clinic in Mayville. The parents hosting the party were her adoptive parents. The sibling who was stung by a bee was their first child – a biological son. The couple had decided when they married to have one child and adopt a second; a true vision of Hope for South Africa.

As I stood on a sunny balcony overlooking the festivities, I saw Hope working the crowd. She clapped and laughed as the once abandoned baby girl excitedly tore open her birthday gifts. She beamed at the cameras along with the Mum and Dad who proudly held their son and daughters hands. She spoke at length with couples both gay and straight, and sat cross-legged on a picnic blanket eating bowls of different colored sweets with different colored friends.

And as I stood there, I wondered if Hope would have felt as comfortable at the closing of the ANC Youth League’s elective conference as she did at this one year olds birthday party.

I wondered if she would agree with the popular view that the World Cup – also just one year old – was of no lasting benefit to our nation. I wondered if she was currently the house guest of nearly 50 million South Africans, or perhaps just a temporary lodger in a few homes. I wondered if she had chosen to come to this birthday party because she was tired of having the door slammed in her face at other South African homes.

And then I wondered; if Hope is essential for life, how do we live with Hope permanently? How do we make Hope the centre of the dialogue and not the peripheral side show? How do we ensure that she is not just wheeled out for special occasions like the 2010 World Cup and then put back in her box when life returns to normal? Is it possible that in the face of Apartheid style racism, xenophobic attacks, the ‘corrective rape’ of lesbian women, militaristic policing, poverty and rampant unemployment, Hope can survive – even triumph?

I believe it is, but as individuals we have to decide to welcome Hope into our homes, our offices, our places of worship and our community groups. We have to decide to seat her at the head of our family table, and make her the chairman of the board. We have to place her in the pulpit and behind the microphone and in front of the TV news cameras. She must become the starring act.

It was wonderful to see Hope again. She reminded me that South Africa is in fact working and that cohesion, tolerance and peace are being created; if not by politicians – certainly by citizens.

Flipside tip of the week:

Where there is Hope there is life. We must choose to foster Hope so that such parties become more common and those parties wishing to destroy Hope are brought down.

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