Saturday, March 12, 2011

On my birthday, I wished for more birthdays

The year I turned 19, my mom made my favorite birthday treat: spice cake with penuche icing (brown sugar, butter, etc.) with Bridgeman's butter brickle ice cream on the side. She didn't have 19 candles in a single color, so she used a whole variety of colors. I must have seemed unusually resolute as I blew out those multicolored candles, because she asked what I had wished for. I wouldn't answer, and I probably blushed.

An hour later, the sweet-faced young man who had been smiling at me all week called. We went out for coffee - the start of a lovely teenage romance - and I blushed again when I told him I'd wished on those candles for him to call. Mom and I had a running joke about multicolored candles after that, but I can't remember wishing for anything really special.

Yesterday, I had two opportunities to make a birthday wish. Peter put one pink candle in the yummy banana-chocolate chip-pecan muffin that Abby brought for my birthday breakfast. A second, in a candle holder artfully fashioned from an orange, was provided by the Chinese restaurant where we gathered for dinner. The kids helped me blow out both candles.

The wish that came to me both times was simple: Let the happiness that I feel this moment continue for a long time.

What it meant was, Let Peter and me be healthy. For a long time.

Seriously, I have everything I could want. I'm retired since December, Peter's business is both flourishing and manageable, we love being able to care for the grandkids, we have health care coverage, and we have plenty of interests and hobbies to keep ourselves amused.

Every day Peter talks about how delightful the children are, how lucky we are to be in their lives, and what good choices have brought us to this point. It's a useful habit, appreciating all the good things. But I can't silence the tiny voice in my head that says, "You'd better hope you both stay healthy so you can keep enjoying this."

As I turned 68 yesterday, that was the only thing I felt a need to wish for.

Clearly I'm not the only one thinking that way. This wonderful birthday gift should provide lots of ideas and information for eating wisely and well. It's by America's Test Kitchen, whose recipes and detailed instructions I've come to appreciate in my new role as she-who-cooks-dinner.

There are no guarantees. But with this and a little more exercise, I intend to try to help my birthday wish come true.

Friday, March 11, 2011


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