The Gifts I Want for My Birthday Are Not for Me

giving-giftsNovember is here already, at just about the time we were getting used to the idea of October. The truth is, we’re never quite ready for the steady passing of time, no matter what month the calendar turns to.

I love November because it’s my birthday month. But I also love it because it’s the month when Mother Nature typically gives up those schizophrenic last days of absurd heat and focuses on the predictability of crisp, cold mornings, with the occasional flock of Canadian geese wandering overhead. And I love November because it contains Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year.

My birthday has always been tied up with Thanksgiving: My inadvertent decision to come two weeks before my due date meant my mother spent the holiday in the hospital, while my father spent it wrangling my three older siblings in her absence. While I wasn’t born on the actual day, the holiday and my birthday have crisscrossed and fallen as one multiple times in the last 4 1/2 decades. This year is one of them. So much for choosing what I’ll be eating for my 45th birthday meal.

I’ve given a lot of thought to what I want to do to celebrate my milestone birthday (and why are milestone birthdays only those divisible by 5, anyway?), and I always come back to two things: Most material objects do nothing for me and I am in love with all things experiential.

If Doug has suffered at all through our marriage for the last 21 years, and before that while we were dating, it is mainly on gift-giving holidays. The simple truth is that I’m one of those people who always prefers to give, and not to receive. It’s a real pain in the ass when your family wants to get you a gift to show their love, and you want nothing but their love. And plane tickets.

So, while I make my family suffer trying to determine the perfect gift for somebody who doesn’t want a gift, I do have a favor that I’d like to ask of all of you, in honor of my birthday month. Engage in random acts of kindness. Whatever the outcome of next week’s election, people will be unhappy. There’s too much hate circulating, with no outlet. Engage in kindness. Let the car next to you merge into your lane. Hold the door for the 10 people exiting the store behind you. Drop paper money into somebody’s donation can. Adopt a family for the holidays. Pay for the groceries of the person behind you. Visit an elderly neighbor. Do something for somebody else that brightens their day, even if it’s just gracing them with a smile. I promise it will brighten yours, too.

I can’t be everywhere at once and you don’t have to tell me what you did. But if you find yourself in a situation and decide to act because of this post, please let me know. I’d love to live that kindness vicariously through you. Too often, we hesitate and then talk ourselves out of it. Buy a meal for the guy sitting outside McDonald’s. Carry extra gloves with you to give to somebody shivering in the cold, or give them yours. Offer up your seat for anybody–regardless of age or gender–who looks like they need to “take a load off.”

Be nice. Be kind. Be caring. Always. Hate and anger beget more hate and anger. Never underestimate the power of a simple act of kindness.

Thank you! ❤

8 thoughts on “The Gifts I Want for My Birthday Are Not for Me

  1. I agree with Renee’ you are a wonderful human being and I’ve been blessed to see all your many acts of kindness in the past 28 years. I was going to say something cute like, “my act of kindness is back ordered,” but I thought I would just be happy about your blog and having you in my life. Great thought for the day, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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