And happy birthday to me, too!


Not only do my friend Sarah and I both have daughters named Emily, we have sisters named Mary.  I’m the older sister, however.  We haven’t been as close in recent years as Sarah and her sister, probably because I’m not nearly as nice as Sarah’s Mary, and my Mary is a more serious than Sarah.  We do appreciate and love each other.  You just can’t beat sisters in the overall life lottery.

I recently turned 60.  About a week ago Mary and I were talking, and she was telling me that she was getting rid of things (common theme, yes?).  Then she mentioned that she was getting things together for my gift.  Naturally I was a little nervous about the two being related.   The box arrived today, and it sat for about 4 hours in the middle of the floor while I tried to get up the nerve to open it.   Finally worked up my courage, and here is what I found.

First, a note on the top.  It read:

Now that you’re 60

#1  It’s not bad to look back and see where you’ve come from …

#2  Still, you have to take care of yourself in the present.

#3  But it’s also good to look forward at where you’re going.  And to help you with those important investment decisions, I’ve supplied this handy guide …

Being of an analytical bent, I turned first to box #1.  It was a lot bigger than the other two items.  Realistic, I guess, given my age.  I’m not likely to live another 60.  Here’s what was in it:

Two Cherry Ames books; Lesley Gore’s “It’s my party” CD; a bag of Jordan Almonds; a bag of chocolate Tootsie Pops; a bag of French burnt peanuts; packs of Beemans and Black Jack chewing gum; a package of Necco chocolate wafers; and an old bottle of “Evening in Paris” cologne.

(The phone and highlighter sneaked into the picture).

What you can tell from this is that I (1) read books like a fiend; (2) liked really dumb sing-along music; and (3) had a terrible diet.

Next I turned to The Present.  I couldn’t get a good photo of it (even with my sorry standards), so I’ll describe it.

The Sweatshirt

My original plan was to buy you a snuggly warm sweater.  However, after I talked to you I decided instead to send you some USED clothing.

This is my absolute favorite sweatshirt.  It’s also sometimes taken for long periods of time by Hanna, who also likes it because it’s warm and soft.  In fact, when I told her I was sending it to you, she said “I WANT THAT SWEATSHIRT!!”  After I reminded her that it was my sweatshirt and your birthday, she settled down.

So this is for you to keep warm in, in your cold house, with your used-clothing resolution, in these difficult times.  I hope you enjoy it.

It’s a great sweatshirt.  Forest green hoodie with SALOLAMPI across the front, which I’m assuming is the name of the Finnish language camp at Concordia Language Villages.

So, how about the future?  What does Mary know about my future that I don’t?  Is she going to help me figure this all out?????

This was perfect.  What we know in perfect detail about the past doesn’t apply to the future.  We can manage or plan some of it, but most of it just happens.  And either we do it like it’s a big weight on us, or we do it like it’s all part of the dance.  I chose dance!  I will plan my trips, but the plans will go awry, and I will learn most from what is unplanned.

Thanks, Mary, great gifts.

Hanna, I promise you’ll get the sweatshirt back.


4 responses »

  1. You know, Raechel, you say you aren’t very close to Mary, but it’s this type of connection that, if not broken, is tight. Those gifts – she knows you! And, c’mon, for even a moment, she chose her sister over her daughter. Those boxes contain all of the elements of a wonderful, wonderful sibling relationship.
    Congratulations – on your birthday, your presents, and your relationships.

  2. Not too many people can enjoy presents that they didn’t dictate to the giver. But how could you not enjoy those presents? How will she one up herself next year? And now the ball is in your court for her next birthday.

    Happy birthday!

    • Yes, thanks for pointing out that the pressure’s on, gzookeeper. I am quite aware of that. I like to think that in my family, every couple of years someone comes up with an amazing gift. We all appreciate it, regardless of who the recipient is, talk about it for a few years, and then someone tops it. Brother Bill out-did himself one year. He gave me a giant box of napkins and one of those restaurant napkin dispensers, because I was refusing to buy paper products and made him use a hand towel instead. He gave Mary and Gretchen each 1/2 of a mystery gift that, when put together, led them to a Sushi restaurant where a great dinner awaited them. One year I gave Todd, Gretchen’s husband, Bill, and my son Jason Klein bottles. They’re all math types. Had a heck of a time getting them, along with the little biosphere filled with live shrimp that I gave Gretchen, through airport security. Luckily the guy behind me had a set of steak knives, so the TSA guys finally let me through. I was strange; he was downright crazy.

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