Archive for the ‘birthday’ Category

All Different

I was at lunch the other day with a friend. We were discussing many things but one topic that came up was how we are all so different. What is pleasing to one person might not be pleasing to the next person. I was talking about the resale shop I had worked in for the last two months as a prime example. You never know what will appeal to a person. And the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is definitely true.

Then we moved on to gift giving. And how you need to do it with no strings attached.

In that same vein we also discussed accepting the fact that the recipient might not like the actual gift. Back to the no strings business.

How many times have we given someone a thoughtfully chosen present? And then we never see them use, display or appreciate it? And we get a little miffed?

There is a reason for this. They probably didn’t like it. Or need it. Or it didn’t suit them. Or some other reason.

Maybe it wasn’t as thoughtfully chosen as we like to think. Sometimes we choose gifts based on what we think others need, like, or want. And sometimes we are dead wrong.

I can think of plenty of gifts I/we have given to folks in the past only for them to sit unused and collecting dust.

So, another lesson in the life book for me.

Be truly thoughtful when giving gifts. It should be about them and not about us. And when we are truly thoughtful and they still don’t like the gift then accept that. I am sure they appreciate the present. They just might not like it. And that’s okay.

We are all unique and our likes are quite varied. Clothing designers are in business because they know this.

I thought back to my recent birthday. A few of my friends gave me a beautiful red lacquered Chinese box.

Afterwards, I remembered a conversation that one of those friends and I had about Chinese furniture. She mentioned that she wasn’t a big fan of all the lacquer. I said that I had never gone in big for it in the past but that it started to grow on me and I now really like it.

When it was time to shop she chose a present that she knew I would like. Not what she liked or she thought I should have.

It shouldn’t be about us.

 

 

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Most of you know that Rory lost her friend Veronica when they were fourteen years old. Veronica had been hit by a car while crossing the street after school.

Tomorrow would have been her twenty-second birthday.  So, of course, I have been thinking about her.

What you may not have known is that the girl driving the car that hit her was also a student at the same high school.

You can imagine school letting out on a beautiful autumn day. Streams of kids walking home. Loads of cars. Moms and carpools.

It was an accident. As tragic as it was.

Rumors went wild about the young driver.

A lot of the community’s energy was focused on the victim of the accident. Okay, most. Truth be told. All.

Except that I do recall something. Annie’s soccer coach, Lisa, made dinner for another family that was also devastated by the accident. Her neighbor across the street. The family of the young driver. I remembered thinking how very compassionate it was of Lisa.

While they didn’t lose a daughter this family was also very much effected. The girl ended up transferring to another school. I also remember being in a restaurant some months later and my Rory whispered, “That’s the girl who hit Veronica.”

My heart and mind was obviously with Veronica’s family at that time.  But I often think about how we forget that so many folks are effected by tragic events. The young girl will never forget that day. That accident. I am sure the course of her life was utterly changed. As was her family’s. The whispers. Always being the girl who hit Veronica.

And that was an accident. Imagine the families of people who purposefully commit atrocities.

It is normal to open our hearts to victims. To side with the wronged or aggrieved party. It’s easier and, of course, no one wants to be seen as sympathetic to the other side.

Truly had me thinking about what real compassion might be.

I remember seeing the real life story, made into a television movie, where Sister Helen Prejean (played by Susan Sarandon) was the sole spiritual support for a rapist and killer. Whoa. Not sure I could do that. But I was in awe of her.

Recently saw a photo of Pope Francis. He was kissing a severely disfigured man on his head. Not sure I could do that either. I would like to think that I could but the reality is that I might not. It wouldn’t be easy. But I was in awe of him.

Now, granted, these last two examples are of people who are probably more compassionate than most. Whether through God’s gift or training.

There are so many people out there that would benefit from the difficult acts of compassion. Maybe all are victims. In some way. Maybe not. I hope that one day I might be truly compassionate. Not just when I am on the right side of it. And when it’s easy.

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It’s that time of year. When we spend, spend and then spend some more. Money not time.

The pressure is on!

Stores and businesses prepare for this onslaught all year-long. Everywhere. And not just in Christian majority countries. It’s for everyone! Christmas is a cash cow, in many places around the world, leading one to believe that money might, in fact, be God.

It really has me thinking. Not just about  spending unnecessarily for gifts that may or may not really be appreciated. But also about what is a good gift.

This is what I came up with during my scorching of brain cells on the matter.

A gift should be thoughtful. It could be simple. Sentimental. Desired. Meaningful. It should be something that the recipient will actually remember, years later, where it came from and the feelings it elicited.

I think those are the best kind of gifts. I have received a few special gifts that I will always remember.

One was on a Christmas morning. It was after my beloved grandmother had died. When I opened the present from my mother it contained my grandmother’s wedding ring and her watch. Still in the original box. I cried buckets. My mom said that she didn’t think anyone would appreciate it more.

My Nana did not have much money. Not a lot of jewelry or anything by way of material goods. To feel the wedding ring that she wore on her hand for over sixty years just really, really touched me. It is so worn that it looks like it could snap in half.

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ring

The most recent gift I received was from my childhood friend who lives in Massachusetts. She sent me a birthday card with pressed, colorful maple leaves. So I could sort of experience a New England autumn while I am in Malaysia. See, she had to think of me when she was out searching for the perfect leaves. I was on her mind. And she thought about what I could be missing from home.

leaves

She is also the one who gave me simple wind chimes when I moved from my home state back in 1994. Said that I could think of her when I heard them.

I have also been witness to many gift givings. And the ones that always stand out in my mind are the ones that were full of meaning or sentimentality. Not a brand new car or diamond ring. Not a new laptop or phone.

And there are also thoughtful ways to give these gifts. When we were young we had a family friend who was very ill with hepatitis. So very sick. I remember my mom making up a basket of individual, wrapped presents for him. So that he would have something to look forward to each day.

When my dad first arrived in the States he lived with his uncle for about ten years. Many years later, on my Dad’s 80th birthday, his cousin Kathy presented him with his army belt that she found in the basement of her house. He probably hadn’t seen it in fifty years.

That same day, at Dad’s party, I turned around and saw my Uncle Jim in the doorway. I nearly fell down with shock. He had told me he couldn’t fly in for the party because he was teaching a class. He said that he later thought about it and said, “I’ve known my brother-in-law forever. There is no way I can miss this guy’s 80th birthday.” And he booked the airline ticket.

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Jim and Patsy

There are many other examples of wonderful gifts. Of ways to give them. I could write all day. I guess my advice to all during this holiday season would be to really reflect on some of the best gifts you’ve received in the past.  And do they shore up with your present?

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I am closer to forty nine years old today. So this is an old one. Wrote it in October on my birthday. Not sure why I didn’t post it before today. But digging it out was prompted by a friend’s visit last night. Jeannette had to fill out paperwork for her daughter’s school and it contained questions that required some thought. Not exactly the “If you were a tree then what tree would you be?” question. But close.

Today is my birthday. 48 years old. I can’t believe it. It seems like I was just 16 years old a short while ago. But I’m not complaining. I love my life and plenty of folks have been robbed of this growing old privledge.

It just seems to blow by so quickly. Only the body has changed. In many ways. That can be a bit startling. Although not as startling as say procreating at this ripe old age. Not sure if I actually could but I do a lot of genealogy work. I have seen some old mamas out there. Fingers crossed, people!

Went to a restaurant with my peeps. A bunch of great gals that I have had the good fortune to meet and befriend here in Kuala Lumpur. It’s always a fun time.

On the table there was a pile of cards in a wooden box. It contained questions of an icebreaking sort. Like “Three words you would use to describe yourself.” Honest self assessment is not always easy. But doable.

This next one was a good one. “How did you rebel when you were younger?” Not sure how doable that one is. Ummm, I think I will have to leave that question to Eileen. Although I do have to say she has been the best mother in the world and wouldn’t share. That’s not how we do in my family.

But this one was kind of a stumper. “What was your proudest moment?”

I don’t know if it is kind of like “Pride goeth before the fall” or what but I really had to ponder this one. I’m still thinking about it. What have I done that would be considered my proudest moment?

Not the happiest moment. That might be reserved for seeing your vernix coated child for the first time.

Not the most exciting moment. That could be anything from obtaining a driver’s license, graduating or landing a new job.

I’m not saying I don’t have proud moments. I do. We all do. When the children do well. When they show compassion. When the husband gets promoted. I’m proud of my parents and brothers and the rest of my family. There are plenty of those moments.

But I just don’t know what would be my proudest moment. Maybe I haven’t experienced it yet. Or maybe I am just confusing the words. Overthinking it.

I was not the only one struggling with this. The answers did not come easy to the other ladies.

What is your proudest moment?

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