And looking back a bit. The first birthday I remember was when I was four. My friend Nancy lived next door and when she brought over presents, we both tore into it!
I would remember that gift even without the benefit of photos. It was a kitchen set -- a little dish drainer and pans and spoons. Who would know that 62 years after that day I would still be cooking and Nancy would be retired from her career as a dietician (and the school lunch lady!)
I don't remember turning five, but my mother made sure I'd have a visual memory of it -- neighbor kids and cousins, all together.
And when I was nine, I remember that party well. We went to see the movie "Bells are Ringing" with Dean Martin and Judy Holliday (one of my favorite actors) and then a party at home. I remember this green kangaroo (and not who it was from, regrettably) which was made to collect autographs. It's tough to get kids together for a summer birthday party. Maybe that's why I remember it so well!
(I'm sure I enjoyed the movie more than anyone there. When I was a kid and we'd play actor, I wanted to be Judy Holliday -- but no one else knew who she was.)
Like Nancy, a birthday celebration doesn't have to be mine to be fun. (See Rick's birthday post from last month!) For example, there was the year I surprised my friend Suzanne when she turned 50.
I can't remember how I slipped into Canada and showed up or was hidden -- I just remember it was loads of fun! Her husband gave us all "starter funds" for a trip to the casino in Niagara Falls. Of course I lost but I didn't care!
I really should show a better picture of Suzanne, since I'm seeing her in a few days and she'll kill me if that's how you'd remember her by! Here we go!
My mother was always good with cakes. I don't remember this one...
...but I do remember this (and have written about it here) -- the styrofoam birthday cake for my eighteenth! Looks gorgeous, doesn't it? The only thing edible was the frosting. (It was during one of my starvation periods. I think I was only eating yeast tablets or liquid protein or something exceedingly stupid. And yes, I was the girl who ate only lettuce when her date to the junior prom took her to dinner during my first Weight Watchers venture at the ripe old age of 16. But let's not talk about body image and the damaging things it can do to your psyche. And still does -- or else I'll get really depressed!)
I believe heartily (as so many of you suggested in Rick's birthday post) to celebrate hearty and for as long as possible. And no, this isn't a birthday that ends in a zero or five (those always seem to be the most traumatic), I am most grateful for each and every day I'm here. That's well worth making some noise about!
There was a time a few years back when I truly wasn't sure how long I'd be hanging around -- at least with any quality of life. And it was a very frightening time both physically and emotionally. I am more than aware that for any of us, each and every day is a gift. I panic when I think about those I love not being around anymore. (And I panic every single day Rick is on his bike trip, especially.) After our brush with death in March, I take nothing for granted. Not one single breath.
So, here is what I want for my birthday.
Promise me that no matter how challenging your life might be at a given moment -- whether it is a physical or emotional issue, one involving your family or best friend or your work or financial situation or health -- anything, that you will take just a few minutes today or tonight before you go to sleep (as I do) to make your gratitude list.
I am so grateful for my family, my friends, Sweet Lizzie, the lake. Grateful to have interests that keep me occupied, to have my sight so I can better read and my hearing so I can enjoy the birdsong (and the yapping cat). I'm grateful for basil and shrimp and Rick's bread; for my neighbor Rosie's garden. For Medicare and insurance. For a house that will be paid up in a few years. I'm grateful for PBS and especially Masterpiece and Mystery and for crisp fall days and warm summer nights. I'm grateful for how the water feels when I venture in to swim -- sometimes too cold, but always, in the end, just right. For the warm sand under my feet, bunnies, the sound of autumn leaves crunching under my feet and the first snowfall (not so much for the ones after that!) I'm grateful for the cottage and my house and resources to be able to do not all, but at least some of the things I want.
Grateful for life itself.
And, grateful, too, that I have become associated with the wonderful people who pull Modern Creative Life together with so many inspiring posts. My current one is titled "In Search of the Peanut Butter Power Bar" and I refer to a wonderful recipe of that title shared by Jenna of The Painted Apron right here. (My post, alas, is not a cooking post, so if you want the recipe, check out Jenna's page!). It refers to needing a power bar of inspiration sometimes when your creative juices aren't kicking in quite the way you'd like. Thanks, Jenna, for an inspiring title!