I’ve had some pretty spectacular birthdays. I’ve had two surprise parties: one when I was nine, the other when I was 16. I’ve gone to impressive, upscale restaurants on a few birthdays. I even dragged Dirtman around antiquing on a couple. And one birthday I got Topper.
Honestly, I enjoyed and am grateful for every one of them. I am of the firm belief that everyone needs that one day to be special, so I never listen to people who wave off observance of their birthday with “it’s just another day.” It’s bad enough that we live in a world that makes it so easy to take each other for granted.
So I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who reciprocated these sentiments. I don’t know why, then, this year seemed so much sweeter. And I noticed this not only yesterday, but Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day too; even our Memorial Day weekend picnic.
Is it that I don’t expect to be happy? Or, ex-Catholic that I am, that I don’t deserve to be happy as penance for screwing up so badly? I hope not. I like to think it’s a combination of grace and the machinations of my family.
Heir 1 took me out to dinner (well, me and half of Heir 2). He took me to the absolutely best Chinese/Japanese buffet. And he didn’t get all proprietary when Dirtman wanted to come too and ask Heir 2 along (Dirtman paid for himself and the other half of Heir 2). Then Dirtman took us all out for real custard ice cream.
So, with pooled resources – which we do a lot lately – we were able to go out to dinner as a family for the first time in a very long time.
And then a kicker: Heir 2’s birthday gift. Another gnome, only not just any gnome. A gnome specifically for my Deviant Gnome collection (you all remember Loretta -- picture at right -- who arrived via JAG and Trasherati)!
In fact, the Gnew Gnome is so special, he deserves his own layout tomorrow, when I can give him the time and space he deserves.
Anyway, as we were driving home I was thinking about how much I had enjoyed the day. Maybe it was the realization that, while I’m required by natural law to love my sons, I find myself liking them as people also. I mean, if I weren’t related to them, I’d want to be related to them; I’d want to hang out with them for fun.
Maybe it was the realization that a familial crisis like the one we’re experiencing has torn apart the best of families and marriages and that, instead, it has drawn us all closer together. And, believe me when I write this, the pressure to go into “everyone for himself” mode has been enormous. It has been the personal decision of every single one of us to close ranks and work together.
And it was the realization that I didn’t have to say any of this because we all felt it and that was enough. I will, honestly, never forget this birthday.