An unexpected gift

I love my birthday – always have. Even though it means I’m getting older. November 20 is a date that speaks of wonderful childhood memories and gestures of love year after year. Typing these words, my mind is filled with memories and my eyes are filled with tears. 

This year, I didn’t have high hopes for my birthday, because I’m in between press trips (I got home last Friday and I leave again next Sunday), my birthday was on a Monday (not the most glamorous day for a birthday), and yesterday we started major renovations in the house. On top of that, Emma was at school until 7 pm for a drama practice. You get the picture!

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed not to have a birthday supper planned, or anything else on the agenda. No flowers, balloons or cake. 

Note: I’m not trying to complain at all; I’m just sharing the facts. End of note.

The day started off well and my sweet Emma got up early to make me breakfast. I mean, how nice is that?

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After that it was a storm of activity, with the arrival of the contractor, questions, research and the start of the renovations. In the afternoon I sat down with our designer to go over a few things and we started chatting. We got onto the topic of family and had a really nice conversation. When she left, I reflected on our discussion and shed a few tears.

Later I talked to my sister-in-law briefly, and we had a fantastic chat, completely unplanned. It just worked out that way, and we had a frank, honest conversation, filled with respect, empathy and love. At the end, I cried. A lot. 

Then I had a cute exchange with my husband, who was feeling bad about the way the day was unfolding because he knows how much my birthday means to me. The fact that he took the time to tell me how much he loves me, that he was thinking of me, and that he’s just really terrible when it comes to surprises and gifts really touched me. 

A little snapshot of our text exchange. 

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I’ll spare you the romantic part – that’s just between him and me!

And yes, I cried. Again. 

Around a quarter to four the doorbell rang. It was Catherine (friend, partner-in-crime and JSUM employee) with her family, with a cake for me! I mean, really! I was on the phone, in business mode, so I was at least able to control my tears. What a lovely gesture! 

In the evening, though, I cried again as I read the cards from the kids and my husband, and then I burst out laughing when Pierre served me a slice of carrot cake in a Styrofoam container. A simple, no-frills celebration – since right now our dining room is in the living room and it’s chaos at our house. But it was perfect: me, my family, and lots of love. 

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Reading their words, I understood. From the outside, my day might have seemed a little out of control: I was running from one place to the next, doing a thousand things, people were coming and going in and out of the house – it was a long way from a relaxing day spent sipping hot chocolate while fielding birthday phone calls. But from my point of view, it was something else. 

Yes, the day was chaotic, but it was also filled with priceless gifts: throughout such a crazy day, I had WONDERFUL conversations and learned all kinds of things. I grew, and made peace with it. One less weight on my shoulders. 

I was wary of my 38th birthday, for all sorts of reasons.

Today, I’m less afraid of growing older. I’m filled with hope for the year (and years) ahead. 

What an unexpected gift! 

Note #2. Yes, I’m crying again. 

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