I’ve waited my whole life for this birthday: 25 on the 25th. My GOLDEN birthday! I woke up this morning to a call from my mother. I can’t imagine a better way to start this special day. Tears of joy began to well up in my eyes. I am so happy, but also very reflective; maybe because I feel that this birthday is so momentous for me. It is not only my GOLDEN birthday, but marks a quarter century of life. The first stage of my life: childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, is wrapping up and the second stage is gearing up. I’ll call this next stage: “Real Adulthood.” This year, I’m looking forward to getting married for one thing, which is a huge adult step. First comes love, then comes marriage, and you know...
Last night I had a dream which included people from my past. I don’t always sleep very deeply here, so when I have a vivid dream, I know I’ve had a good, deep sleep. I think it was very apropos to have that dream last night. It was like my mind was processing people and interactions that have been important in my “first stage” of life. I woke up with the sensation to write to them and tell them that as I reflect on my first 25 years of life, they were important to me--in my growth and development; helping me to become the adult that I am today.
There are so many people who touch our lives, even for a brief moment, and leave a huge, meaningful, imprint. I do believe that in some ways, we are like blocks of clay. God molds us in the womb and then sends people in this world who press and pull and prod us, leaving marks on our form. Today, I’m thinking about those people and thanking God for them by name.
Living My Life like it’s Golden--A play-by-play of my day:
Note: I wanted to record my day, just so I don’t forget it! It’s a long description, so if you skim it, please make sure to read the last one :)
- I woke up happily to a phone call from my mother.
- Pete serenaded me on the trumpet with “Happy Birthday,” then presented me with a drawing (which one of the girls had given to him to color) of a boy playing a trumpet for a girl.
- A 13-year old boy gave me a white bear stuffed animal holding a rose, who was sitting on purple tissue paper, which he chose because he knew purple was my favorite color.
- A co-worker presented me with a lovely pair of earrings, also purple because she knew it was my favorite color.
- I received lots of warm hugs from warm children.
- Those same warm children sang me “Las Mañanitas,” the Mexican birthday song.
- I received lots of warm hugs from kind adults.
- I laughed hard in the kitchen with two women in their 50‘s as I learned life lessons from them about joy and growing older.
- A woman who works in the office and her family gifted me a bag of mint-filled Hershey’s kisses--something I haven’t enjoyed in a while :)
- As I sat in the library reading loving messages from friends and family on facebook, the whole morning staff entered the library singing “Las Mañanitas,” and presented me with a gift basket full of fruit and chocolates, along with a bag of Mexican coffee. They all contributed to purchase that gift. Amazing.
- A 10-year old girl who I’ve grown very close to gifted me with a stuffed bunny, which looked well-loved, in a gift bag. I told her this bunny would help me when I miss my bunny at home ;)
- The Doctor, who we’ve also grown very close to, gifted me a beautiful hand-painted clay mini-bowl along with silver earrings and a matching necklace pennant. She later brought me a nice floral arrangement for the house.
- I continued to receive warm birthday hugs throughout the day.
- Two girls created a gift for me together. It was in a wrapped silver box with a big bow. They wanted me to wait until I got back to my house to open it. Inside I found a stuffed doll, a stuffed dog, and a little stuffed animal, all also well-loved. A little note on the stuffed animal read, “Te Quiero.” So sweet.
- I ran into an employee as she was walking toward the Casa to come to work. She greeted me with a hug and pulled out of her bag a wooden painted statuette of una Virgencita and gifted it to me.
- I shared a little cake with the seven youngest (kindergarten-aged) kids at the Casa after their dinner time. (They eat dinner earlier than the older, primary school-aged kids.) I’ve grown closer to the youngest kids recently because I read bed-time stories to them two days per week, so I wanted to share something special with them.
- I taught English class to my high school students.
- I shared two cakes (de tres leches) with the larger group of older kids after they ate dinner. They sang “Happy Birthday” in English and then, as is customary, before cutting the cake, one of the girls pushed my face into the cake. With a face full of vanilla frosting, I cut and served my birthday cake.
- After dinner, Pete and I went out to dinner with Lupita, la Doctora, and two other Casa employees. We had a lovely dinner in which I ate a large, delicious salad. I especially enjoy fresh veggies whenever I’m able to eat them here.
- Lupita presented me with a ring, which she said was an engagement ring to the Casa, and then at dinner, bought me some roses.
- Pete presented me with a book, which he had put a lot of work into along with the help of the kids and staff at the Casa. It was full of notes and pictures from kids and adults wishing me happy birthday and saying nice things, many of which were in English because Pete had worked with kids in his English classes on this project. At the end of the book, Pete had written--get this: 25 haikus, in English, Spanish, and even one in French. They were so creative and beautiful. At the end, were the lyrics to a song that he had written about us, which he recited to me with the music in the background when we got home from dinner. The PERFECT end to a wonderful day. I went to sleep thinking that I am so incredibly blessed. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here right now and for the gift of sharing my life with such a talented, thoughtful, and loving man, Pete.
Something I noticed is that when many people presented a gift, they said, “Esto es un pequeño detalle.” This is a little detail. To me, each “little” gesture of love and kindness felt huge, and each “little” detail contributed to create an incredible day.
A final life lesson that I learned on my birthday: When you don’t have a candle, just light a toothpick with a piece of plastic wrapper on top. Make do with what you’ve got! (see pic...)