Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birthday Gifts

I inadvertently started a tradition on my 30th birthday. I decided to have a big party, which isn’t something I usually do, I prefer multiple dinners and celebrations over the entire month of August. When the question of gifts came up, I was at a loss. I was already planning a gathering with a large group of people who call me friend and I wasn’t sure that I needed something material to improve that. So to make my friends happy and satisfy my need to not have things I won’t use in my house, I came up with a compromise. I asked my guests to bring one of the following: a favorite bottle of wine, a favorite CD, or a favorite book. Since I consider books, music and wine essentials in my life I thought it might be fun to see what my friends would come up with.

The day of my 30th birthday, I fired up the grill and smothered on sun block and one by one my friends arrived with hugs and kisses and well wishes. They set their packages to the side and we ate, drank and talked the evening away. Then people began to ask me to open their gifts. As I opened a bottle of wine I was told how my friends had had that wine every year on their anniversary since they had first drank it on their honeymoon twenty plus years before. I was told how the book I unwrapped had been a catalyst for change in a friend’s life and how another book kept my friend up all night laughing. And how the CD of harp music was from my friend’s harp instructor who changed how she felt about music. By the end of the evening I was surrounded by little pieces from the moments that meant something to the people I love. I spent the next couple of months listening to the music, drinking wine and reading books, and remembering the stories that went with them.

By the time I could hum to the melodies, finished the last drop of wine and closed the last book, I felt closer to my friends who had allowed me to take a journey with them. It was hard to believe that what started out as my version of a compromise, turned into a new connection with the people who had come to celebrate my birthday with me. In the years that have followed it has become somewhat of a tradition, I have continued to receive wine, books, CDs and even movies. Then I get to spend the rest of the summer in the pages of the people who mean something to me and I find that no matter how small my living space is, I have more than enough room for that.

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