I had a wonderful birthday last weekend. It was my first since getting married last year, and my wife went overboard.
I'm not big on "things" for gifts....instead, I like "experiences." "E" hit a home run this year, treating me to an overnight stay at a hotel I've wanted to visit since we first discovered a small town about an hour away from us. We ate great food, spent a rainy Saturday afternoon looking through a used bookstore, she surprised me with tickets to a movie I've been wanting to see, and I ended the day with a straight razor shave (smooth). Everything about the the weekend was perfect.
But what made this, and each birthday, extra special for me, were the cards and letters I received from friends and family.
I'm not an easy person to buy gifts for. So when someone asks "What do you want" for my birthday, I tell them "a letter or card." It can be about anything and everything. It's a little part of their history, and my timeline.
Now, fewer cards seem to arrive each year, as people wish me happy birthday on Facebook and twitter. I appreciate that, and it's nice connecting with those I only hear from a few times a year. But the gifts I treasure most, are the letters and cards friends and family choose, and the words they share.
I have a box I keep in our bedroom filled with years of birthday and Christmas wishes. Letters from my wife that date back to when we first met in junior high, postcards from friends on vacation and letters from my grandmother with recipes for shortbread and her homemade vegetable soup.
These are the gifts I hold closest to me. The words that will continue to keep me close to those who are still alive, and those who aren't, for years to come. These are the best gifts of all.