... to me! I'm 35 today. :-)
I was thinking last night about birthdays and marveling at how I've never grown out of the joy that my birthday brings. I always assumed that I would someday dread my birthday... getting a year older and such, but it hasn't happened yet. I think that I will be just as excited about 40 as I was at 30. This lead me to remembering past birthdays. Some stand out in my mind more than others, so if you will permit me a walk down memory lane...
Most of my younger birthdays have blurred together, but I do remember that I didn't like cake (I have since recovered from that silliness) and poor Mom had to try to find a creative solution for that! I also remember getting a life-sized doll that I had desperately wanted. I could fix her hair and pretend that she was a friend. But at night I would agonize over where to put her. I was afraid that I would wake up in the night and think someone was in the room and get scared to death. I thought of the closet or under the bed, but then I would KNOW that there was someone in the closet or under the bed... such a quandary.
I turned 12 just after my family arrived in Panama for the very first time. I had a party with all new friends and was entering junior high. Mom made the whole day so special! I believe that was the last birthday I had with my parents (until I was 21 - Mom was there for that one!). My brother and I stayed at the school during the year while our parents were in the tribe, and since mine is a September birthday, it always fell at the beginning of school.
On my 14th. birthday, Dad gave me a beautiful wooden jewelry box, lined with blue velvet, that he had made by hand. A carved wooden heart was the secret latch to opening it. I use it as a tea chest to this day.
We were on furlough for my 16th. birthday, but Mom and Dad were in Florida taking a computer course, so I spent the day with some wonderful friends in California. My Grandpa Jim bought me a sapphire necklace that year... ahhh sweet 16!
I had graduated from high school and was living with my Grandma Lois in California on my 18th. birthday. She took me to the Olive Garden in Reno (my first trip ever to that restaurant).
I was back in Panama before I turned 19, and by my 20th. birthday was living alone in a house that was bigger than any I have lived in since! That was a solitary day, but I still loved it. I made a pot of tea and climbed back into bed and opened a present from my parents. Four months later, my dad was kidnapped and I ended up in Florida... where I met John.
I got engaged on my 21st. birthday! John and I went ring shopping that morning and finally found the perfect set (I was just a little picky...) We had the jeweler place a diamond from John's grandfather's ring into the setting. I remember going out to eat for lunch and the server commenting over the way that John pulled my chair out for me. And do you know? 14 years later, he still pulls my chair out for me! Once we picked the ring back up, we met all of our family for dinner to show it off and celebrate. On the way home, at sunset, John took me up on the roof of the Mission and "officially" proposed. I have always been happy that the day went that way - there was no scary, awkward, surprise proposal (shudder) - one evening John told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me... and I believed him. It was just that simple. And perfect. We were married well before I turned 22.
I was hugely pregnant with Ellie, and on bed-rest, for my 26th. birthday. All of the family gathered around my easy chair. My sweet in-laws gave me a Swarovski crystal pair of baby booties! Ginger had been shopping her heart out to bring my vision for Ellie's bedroom to life. Then we watched what turned out to be a very sad movie... sure, make the pregnant woman cry!
My thirtieth birthday was spectacular! I was pregnant with Ethan, but not yet at the gigantic and uncomfortable stage. I awoke that morning to be told by John that he had arranged a baby-sitter for Ellie (my mom, I think) and was taking the day off to be with me. He took me to the mall for a new outfit, then out to lunch. We came home to get ready for dinner - I knew that the family would be gathering, but that's all I knew. I had an elegant little black maternity dress that I'd been dying to wear, and as we stepped out of our front door, a long, white limo pulled up to the house. Grandma Jean, Grandpa Jim, Mom, Ellie, Stan, Pat, Ginger, and Russ were all inside! We went to a wonderful restaurant to eat. Ellie slept through the entire thing! It was an amazing birthday. I did, however, learn one important lesson about limos. Never sit sideways in a moving limo and open presents. I had to close my eyes for the remainder of the drive to make the car stop spinning and keep my supper in my stomach!
One of the most special things that I have done for my birthday in recent years is to go out on a "girl's night out" with 4 other friends and mom's (we have 13 children between us). We take turns celebrating each other's birthdays. It has always been special. Vickie, Kim, Tonya, and Kristi - I miss you guys!
Well... that brings us to present day... I am so happy to be in Montana for this birthday - I've not done that before, and I like new experiences. I do miss John - he's not missed any of the past 13 birthdays. Ellie has been whispering to people since yesterday, so I believe I'm in store for some wonderfully creative work of art! I just wanted to thank you all for being such a special part of this past year of my life. I will always remember being 34 as the most stressful (I hope), yet poignant year of my life! Thank you for choosing to live this journey with me.