Who Needs Birthday Gifts?

It’s my birthday and although I have done some reflecting on my birthdays in the past, this year after a tough 60th year of losses, I am filled with gratitude as I approach my 61st birthday.

Everyone has reacted to all of my recent good news (engagements!) with absolute delight, especially in light of the previous year.
So I sat and pondered the wealth of gifts I have in life— who needs tangible birthday gifts when you are rich in countless other ways?
First and foremost, I have the most wonderful children imaginable, and that is such a gift in life. Now that they have chosen life partners, those partners have become a bonus gift and a deeply appreciated addition to our family. Having my loving family, including my husband, is priceless.
Secondly, I am rarely sick, so I have the gift of health. I know many of my friends have struggled with health issues and I am thankfully blessed with good genetics on the side of longevity and health. At my age, you cannot take this for granted. I am extremely thankful for my robust health.
I think part of the above is the climate I am in — I remember my last winter 35 years ago in a much colder climate, and I was sick for an entire winter with an endless pattern of upper respiratory infections, colds, and the like. The place I chose to live my adult life is a gift in many, many ways, and the climate is one of them. (Notwithstanding this El Nino year of floods.)
Always, always, I feel fortunate for the gift of writing talent, with which I am able to touch so many people in so many ways, either through their heartstrings or through humor. I enjoy being able to express myself and having people relate. So many tell me when they read me, it is like having a good friend talking to them.  Though I never took a journalism course, I have succeeded in that field beyond any of my dreams.
My multiple careers and my success in them is a blessing as well. I have career ADD and I have switched things up multiple times, but did well in whatever I have undertaken in several fields. I worked my way through college and graduate school so I could choose my profession, and I am just lucky that I have had several to choose from and partake in.
The gift of friendship is something I feel grateful for all the time. My cup is full of friendship. I have the sweetest, most wonderful friends including close friends, work friends, community friends, synagogue friends, and even acquaintances. May I also add my gratitude for my more distant Facebook and writing fan friends, who support me, cheer me on,  and even console me as real friends do on any given occasion.
My community is a gift. No matter what the event, people here feed you, take care of you, support you, laugh with you, cry with you, and come together whenever needed. It takes a village indeed. This birthday girl feels lucky to be in the midst of an entire caring community.
As you know I am also, as Madonna sang so well, a material girl. I love pretty things, pretty clothes, shoes, decor. And yet I feel very fortunate that I have the means to buy what I need or want which is a big change from how I grew up. I gift myself regularly, making it hard for others to buy me real gifts for occasions like my birthday.  My closest family and friends have taken it upon themselves in the past few years to gift me with experiences— concerts, evenings out, shows, trips — which is so incredibly special and meaningful.
Finally, I am thankful to have a weekend birthday this year. It’s a bit different when it is a work day and you have your professional persona on display. You can’t exactly be a birthday girl too, so this year I will relish sleeping in a bit, and having all weekend to celebrate.
Birthdays aren’t so bad as we age if we remember all the priceless gifts we are given.



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