Yesterday was my birthday, and I had a fantastic time! I didn't want a lot of material, tangible presents. Instead I received what I wanted most - time with my family - wrapped up in laughter, good food, a few lame jokes, lots of picture-taking, and playing hide-and-seek with little Caroline.
Every year the kids want to buy me something special for my birthday, and every year I say, "All I want is time with the family." They never believe me.
If there is one thing I have learned from my journey to simplicity, it is the necessity of discovering one's priorities and everything else will land in its proper place. And truly, priorities consist of relationships - family and others that we love. I never know what is going to happen when we get together. On second thought, I do know.
I had already received a card from my mom, and an internet card from my friend Sally in California. When I checked into my MT web site, I saw they had started a thread to wish me a happy birthday. My sister had called with a clever poem about how I'm older than she is and it will be that way forever, or something along those lines, but at my age, I can't remember so well. I had phoned my mom, too, earlier in the afternoon. So already, my day was upbeat. After work, I was joyously anticipating the arrival of the kids. OK, so technically they are adults. They'll always be kids to me.
I started the evening out with a recitation of all the jokes in Reader's Digest. I laughed hilariously at them and Ed just rolled his eyes. I made him sit there and listen, because it was my birthday. Then our daughter-in-law Sarah and son Matt came in and we heard about her student teaching and how she's doing all the teacher's work with no pay. When Sarah's around, we always have to make fun of Matt in some way. Poor absentminded Matt. Such a dear.
Ed and Sarah and Matt were laughing about a knife commercial they saw on TV. They were pretty hilarious trying to reproduce it for me. Then I started to tell a story, which I can't remember now because I am so old, and Ed kept interrupting me (I guess he was "just jokin'"), so I begged, I pleaded with him, "just one day" - could he not be obnoxious, rude, crude, or any variation thereof?! So with Sarah laughing, (Ed amuses her), he went into the kitchen to supervise his special dish - a chicken stew, the recipe of which he got from a cooking show on TV.
Then daughter Rachel and son-in-law Chris and little Caroline popped in. I felt so warmed when the first thing Caroline said was, "Happy birthday, Grammy!" My Aunt June and Uncle Tommy called from Arkansas to give their birthday greetings. I opened a lovely card from Caroline and then a gift from Rachel and Chris, which was a corduroy jacket. Rachel was so sweet to remember that I wanted one. Unfortunately it didn't fit, but since Rachel had wanted one just like it, I told her to exchange it for one in her size. She balked, but I reiterated: I DON'T NEED PRESENTS. I JUST WANT MY FAMILY!!!!
We all praised Caroline for using the little potty which they brought with them. Then we sat down to a delicious dinner of chicken stew - except Rachel said it ought to have rice, so she got up and made some. I talked about my decision to give up any food that contained high fructose corn syrup, and this time Chris rolled his eyes. I believe we managed to get through the meal without discussing bodily functions or fluids, which must have been a first. Afterward, I took a photograph of Rachel and Matt standing back to back showing their bellies (Rachel being over 7 months' pregnant). After a few more pictures, we left Ed home and went to Friendly's for ice cream. There Sarah and Rachel got in a discussion over who was the most financially distraught. Rachel said, "I'm a stay-at-home mom!" Then Sarah said, "I have to pay to work!" We all agreed that Sarah had won. She is truly the poorest of the poor.
Someone brought up the topic of a black light that showed where urine was on a toilet seat, apparently a real product on the market, and Chris made the observation that maybe it wasn't always Ed's fault that we talk about bodily functions and fluid when we are eating together - since Ed wasn't with us at the time.
Matt insisted on paying for my ice cream, because he still didn't believe me that all I wanted was TIME WITH THE FAMILY!!! Then we all came home and Rachel and Chris took Caroline upstairs to get her teeth brushed and jammies on so that after she fell asleep in the van on the way home, she could just go straight to bed. While they were up there, Matt asked us, "Are they still up there?" After we said yes, he added, "Are they putting Caroline to sleep?" Oh, dear, Matt. I think he realized how it sounded right after he said it!
Right after everyone left, we found that Matt had forgotten a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a magazine. Lovable, absentminded Matt!
I'm sure there are many other things that happened last night, but since I am so old, they have slipped my mind. The only other thing that would have made my birthday complete is to have all the rest of the family up here with us. But other than that, it was a very special birthday, and it meant more to me than a whole room full of presents. I am so blessed.
Thank you, my dear, wonderful, quirky family!