As I have been savoring the dwindling moments of another wonderful birthday week, I’ve been thinking about the various ways my family has celebrated my special day in the past. No doubt, this birthday will be remembered with affection in the years to come, but my mind keeps wandering to one of my favorite birthday memories.
It wasn’t because someone planned something elaborate or spent a bunch of money on me. In fact, this particular year, my situation was less than ideal.
Four years ago, when I turned twenty-eight, my husband had to be away on a business trip during my birthday week. I was six months pregnant with my daughter, taking care of two dogs and working full time. None of my family lived close by. This was sure to be the year I’d have an unhappy birthday.
When asked by my students the week leading up to my birthday what my fabulous plans were going to be, I told them that I wasn’t doing anything because my husband was away on business. God bless the gracious and giving nature of the students I had that year. When I arrived at school the morning of my birthday, four gourmet cupcakes from a local cakery, my favorite Starbucks drink, and a royal scepter were all delivered to me. After school, my students whisked me away to Chili’s to eat an early dinner, complete with that dreadful birthday song. They showered me with gifts, but even more so, they showered me with their love, time, and laughter.
They saw an opportunity to pour into my life.
What did I ever do to deserve such awesome treatment from a group of “kids”?
It gets better. That group I described to you was a class of juniors.
The next night, a group of seniors stole me away to eat at a Japanese steakhouse. They all signed a card and pooled their money to purchase the latest season of a television show I was watching at the time. The night was topped off by a trip to the ice cream shop.
I know I’ve had a lot of cool birthdays in the past. I’ve done some exciting things and have received some expensive gifts. But the reason I distinctly remember this particular celebration is because in my older, wiser years, I have discovered that relationships are more important than any trinket, and memories worth more than gold.
I remember just being with my kids. I remember the laughter. I remember feeling loved.
And that’s the greatest gift of all.