Have you ever been given a gift that was exactly what you wanted, even if you didn’t know you wanted it? Are you forever looking for the perfect gift for someone who has “everything”?
If you’d asked me a week ago what I wanted for my “big” birthday, I’d have said, “No gifts, please, and no surprises.”
When you’ve blown out as many birthday candles as I have over the years, gifts tend to be something you’ve already got. If you don’t have it, it’s probably because you don’t want it or can’t afford it. And if you can’t afford it, chances are, no one else can afford it for you.
As for surprises? Is it a happy one? Just tell me in advance and allow me the pleasure of looking forward to it. Or if it’s an event — say, a party in my honor with a lot of well-dressed guests all laughing and snapping my photo — allow me the dignity of cleaning myself up beforehand so I’ll look like the honoree, not something the cat coughed up.
I don’t need gifts or surprises, usually. But this birthday was different in most every way.
My husband is scheduled for hip replacement surgery soon. Until then, he’s limping around the house, wincing in pain and trying with admirable, if limited success, not to be cranky.
So for my birthday, we opted to stay home in Las Vegas, and celebrate later in California, with our kids and his new hip.
Imagine my delight when my oldest and his lovely fiance drove in from L.A. to surprise me. Their presence (as I always say) was the only gift I needed. But they brought an even bigger surprise: A beautifully framed, perfectly arranged collection of quotes titled “70 Things We Love About You.”
I wish you could see it.
They’d spent hours texting and compiling and editing dozens of contributions from 10 of my favorite people: My three children, their others, my three grandkids and my husband.
They videotaped me as I read each quote, and sent the video to the other contributors who couldn’t be there to laugh at me as I bawled like a branded cow.
Seventy is a lot of “I love you’s.” Unfortunately, space limitations won’t allow me to list them all, but here are a few from the little people:
Eleanor, age 3, said she loves me because: “Nana comes to my house.” “She has bracelets.” “She plays with me.” “I laugh at her.” “She loves Baby Honey (Elle’s favorite doll.)”
Wiley, age 5, said: “She makes me toast.” “She likes ‘The Book with No Pictures’ and she reads it really funny.” “She likes what I build out of Legos.” “She lives with Papa Mark.” “When I sleep over, she cozies with me.”
Henry, age 6, said: “She’s smart and always happy.” “She’s amazing and very interesting.” “She’s one of a kind.” “She taught me about love.” “I love her more than any nana.”
Randy, age 7, said: “She’s the best nana I could ever ask for.” “We love reading books to each other.” “She warms me up if I am cold.” “When I feel bad, she helps me.” “I love her all.”
And despite his bad hip, my husband (and former editor) listed several reasons including: “She’s my best friend.” And “she writes like a dream.”
It’s quite a gift to be told that we are loved, even if we already know it, and especially to see it in writing that can be read and reread by friends and strangers and God and all his angels.
If someone asks you what you want for your birthday, tell them honestly: “I want to know what you love about me. Put it in writing so I can read it every day.”
And if you need a gift for someone who has “everything,” make a list of things you love about them. Frame it, or just give it to them in a card. But don’t wait for their birthday.
Surprises are overrated. But surprise gifts, given for no special reason, are the best.
Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.