I had a birthday recently, and like every year, it was a time to go slow and enjoy the precious moments of the day. Birthdays always feel like reflection time. With more birthdays under my belt, I’ve started to get a little nervous on the cusp of, maybe because it’s strange to age, and having a day to viscerally realize the passage of time is a little nerve producing. Since I’ve been married, and particularly since my last two children were born, I have been spoiled rotten on birthdays. It’s like my husband appreciates me extra for being born, so that his children could be born. This year was no different.
I woke up to a floor nearly covered in balloons. This has been a tradition since my now 20 year-old was a child, and now it has been transferred to me. I love it, but also feel a smidge guilty because of all the balloons. I have purposely avoided looking up the effects of rubber balloons on the environment because I just don’t want to know. How American of me.
I went for a delightful walk in the rain, which I was reluctant to do because it was 45 degrees and I’m a Texan and that’s freaking cold, but it was worth every damp step. Perfect actually, and reminded me of being in Ireland when I was 18 and walking everywhere, and “everywhere” was chilly and almost always raining.
I came home and stepped in the front door and five children jumped out of hidey-holes and screamed “happy birthday” at me. My daughter loves to manufacture fun, and this definitely hit the spot for everyone and had her name all over it. The kids then screamed me into the kitchen, each talking over the other, to show me the vase they had made full of homemade flowers (out of tissue paper), and the cards they had drawn, and the breakfast of fruit and bagels and lox that was waiting. I could have been done with the day right there, in that moment, so overflowing with blessings. But there was more.
During community school with the kids, some old friends called via video chat from a place I used to work, and they passed the computer around and told me hi and they missed me and HBD. It was crazy sweet. At the time, I was in the yard of one of my oldest friends, who invites the kids to see her chickens and play in her yard on Fridays, and who I am always happy to see, even masked. When another dear friend came to pick up her kids after school, she handed me a beautiful, colorful beach-bag, handmade in Mexico as a gift. It is lovely, and the sentiment even lovelier. After school, the kids went to play with their classmates, and I had the house to myself for nearly two whole hours! I did some work, gave myself a hair cut and took a long, peaceful shower.
When everyone came home, my husband lugged a giant box out of the car. I opened my present – a new trailer hitch for my minivan! Something I’ve been wishing for for quite some time. Now to figure out how to install it . . . Sweetest and most surprising of all, my son came downstairs and handed me a painted picture of a wintery forest with a pond at sunset, and it’s beautiful. He gave it to me unwrapped, because it was still wet. I was so surprised, and I just love it.
My husband wanted to bake me a cake, but wanted it to be a surprise, so he kicked me out of the house for a bit, and I went to the local park, where I sat writing and listening to the birds and hearing the teenagers calling to one another from their kayaks as they rowed down the cove. I watched the sailboats pass and looked to the sky.
At home, we had dinner and lounged on the couch watching How to Train Your Dragon. Then my little family sang me happy birthday and we ate raspberry chocolate tort and homemade vanilla ice cream, which was a call-back to a desert served at the restaurant my husband and I met and fell in love working at. After everyone was in bed, I was feeling a little of my own mortality, the fleeting of this perfect day and my utter undeserved luck at this unbelievably beautiful life, when I remembered a gift from my mom in a package in the kitchen unopened. I went downstairs, opened it, and burst into tears. It was an angel in creams and white, wearing red shoes that reminded me instantly of my Grammy (same outfit).
So, if you have been sitting around wondering who the luckiest person on the planet is, then look no further. She is sitting right here, and would love to bottle up this feeling and share it with each of you. In lieu of that, I sincerely wish all of the blessings of being beloved, being safe, being cared for, being appreciated, and having the time and ability to enjoy nature a little every day, on each and every one of you. Amen.