As birthdays go, yesterday’s 43rd birthday for me was quiet and uneventful. I remember in my youth being sorely upset if something special didn’t happen on my birthday. If I didn’t receive the present I wanted or if we didn’t go out to eat at the restaurant of my choice, then I was a very unhappy camper. I absolutely craved the attention. Even though I’ve never been one to call attention to myself (I’d rather die than let you know I want you to sing Happy Birthday to me.), I always did need it and was upset if it wasn’t forthcoming.
And so it was with great annoyance and little patience that I scoffed at those who wanted quiet birthdays, who were happy with just cards and hugs, who only wanted well-wishes rather than presents. Geez, I would think, what a codger. Everyone should get presents on their birthday. Insert extreme, youthful eyeroll here.
But, as I’ve found, with age comes contentment and with that contentment comes birthdays and holidays that are less about things and more about people and time. Yes, a gift is greatly appreciated and treasured, but what is even more special is your phone call, your email, your hug, your well-wish, and your love. I crave that time and conversation and connection more so than the physical gift.
Yesterday’s birthday was full of the things that make my life what it is. There was waking up kids for school, encouraging them to get dressed and eat breakfast on time, laundry, dishes, exercise, errands, blah, blah, blah. It was like any other Friday, except for the wonderful birthday greetings from friends around the world, the quiet hug and kiss from my wonderful husband, the amazing Greek dinner my mother cooked for me (dolmades, tiropita, spanakopita, and koulourakia – OH MY!) and the family who came to share that dinner with us.
And at the end of the night came the best gift of all. While the kids were getting ready for bed, Jarrod came over and gave me a big hug. “Happy birthday, Mama!” he said quietly.
“Thank you, Baby Bear. This hug is the best birthday gift ever.” I replied.
“Love is the best birthday gift, Mama. All you need is love.” he responded.
Out of the mouths of babes. It seems that wisdom is present in the young and in the old, and somewhere in-between, when we’re too caught up in life’s drama and minutiae, we sometimes forget that the best gift we can ever give or receive is each other’s love. I’m so lucky to have received such gifts of love yesterday and every day.
Thank you all who made my 43rd birthday so very special. I will cherish you all in the year to come and beyond!