Today is my 65th Birthday. The morning is sunny and cold, and I am here at my keyboard looking out at the world with renewed gratitude. I am grateful that while the frost sits on the ground in my yard and the steam rises from rooftops, I am cozy and safe in my lovely home. I am grateful that upstairs sleeps a Man who made me a card with funny limericks to go with the stack of gifts I found on the kitchen counter. I am grateful for my Daughter, who arranged to have the day off from work to be with me.I am so thankful that my life is full of friends and family who love me.
I have had all kinds of Birthday celebrations over these past decades. My Mom always threw wonderful parties for me. I can see little girls with patent leather shoes sitting around tables decorated with flowers and gorgeous cakes. I remember when I was 8, I had my first boy/girl party in the basement of our house with records and dancing and little boys in suit jackets. My Mom created Beatle themed parties when I was a teenager, sent packages in the mail when I moved far away, and always called me on my birth moment wherever I was.
My friends have given me some great parties, too. When I turned 20, my dear college roommate, Cynthia, threw me a real surprise party. She conspired with David, my then boyfriend and later husband, and all my pals, and pulled off a huge party in our apartment on Marlborough Street in Boston. Amazing brownies as I recall. Thanks, Cynth.
Two decades later, a bunch of women friends surprised me at my store in Yarmouth,Maine, with a celebration that included gifts, flowers, and a male stripper who appeared as a Policeman at the door! Now if you have never had a strip tease performed at nine-thirty in the morning by a complete stranger, let me say you are, perhaps… fortunate!
Later parties became more subdued, but were always special and always holding the same thread of caring and love. I have been very lucky. I was given the best Birthday present of all when I was born: both my parents really loved me. I have seen how the certainty of that Love shaped my choices, my reactions, and my path. We are fortunate if we have that great Gift to reopen in our hearts, as often as we need to, along the way. It is the one gift that we can give away again and again without it losing any of its luster. In the final analysis, Love is the first gift and the last gift, and always the best gift. One size fits all.