Rest and Affirmation Are Lovely Birthday Presents

I seriously cannot remember a better birthday.

Olivia Card - Front

I took the day off from work. This was partly because it was my birthday and partly because I worked too many hours last week.

I spent a significant part of the morning putting together a puzzle. While I tinkered at the puzzle, I watched some basketball games I’d previously recorded. Every now and then, a message of birthday greetings would come through by text message, WhatsApp, Facebook, or GroupMe, and I was able to pause and interact briefly with each well-wisher on an individual basis.

I met my parents in downtown Kent at lunchtime. They treated me to a lovely cavatelli dinner at Belleria. Afterwards, I browsed the used bookshop around the corner and picked up a few titles for an upcoming trip. After I got home from the bookshop, I worked on the puzzle some more. I chatted with my kids when they came home from school.

It was a lovely, lazy Wednesday at home. It felt indulgent.

The best part of the day came around five o’clock, when our family sat down at the dining room table to enjoy some pineapple upside-down cake and open a few presents. The gifts weren’t extravagant — some candy bars, some hiking pants, a special soap — but they were lovely. The thing that really made the day, though, was the letters that my children wrote for me.

They wrote much in the style of the birthday letters I’ve been writing for them each year. Cor’s was headed, “Dear Dad, To the Occasion of your 43rd Birthday.” All three of the letters from my children choked me up. Seriously. Cor shared some specific memories from the last year and said, “Even if you are older than me I have watched you grow this year and have truly enjoyed you.” Olivia reflected on some music that we’ve shared in the last year — including Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — and she said, “Even though sometimes your life seems ordinary, you still have a daughter who loves you an extraordinary amount.” And Elliot wrote about his admiration for the way I’ve stayed relevant through the years in regards to the arts, sports, and — most importantly — character, saying, “It draws students to you for support, and it draws me to you in a similar fashion.”

These letters were thoughtful, well-written, and incredibly meaningful. I felt very loved and celebrated.

Marci and I went out for a dinner date at Giordano’s Pizza in North Canton, to cap off the day. She also spoke words of affirmation and celebration as we gazed across the table at each other. And by the end of the night, I felt refueled, refreshed, and ready to go for another year of life.

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