I used to work a job where I didn't get vacation time. It was seasonal, so they figured your vacation was when you got laid off over the winter. And because it was tourism, we were open for every single holiday, except Christmas Day. I promised myself, when I got a job that actually gave me vacation and floater days that I would a) never work Labour Day again and b) never work on my birthday.
I broke that promise last year and ended up cancelling my day off. I don't remember why. So this year, I was extra aware of having it off (does this make me spoiled??) Plus, super bonus, it was a Friday, so score! Long weekend!
Thursday night, late. Geoff gives me my gift from him. He was working on Friday and knew it would be rushed in the morning to try and get the kids set and ready to go, so he gave it to me when we had a bit of down time.
Now, Geoff hasn't always done well with gifts. That is a hard sentence to type, because it makes me sound materialistic and greedy and that is definitely not the case. Most years I tell him not to get me anything, and I 100% mean it. I would much rather having him clean the house for me, run me a bubble bath, or make me dinner than just buy something for the sake of buying. I am a firm believer in the thought and effort behind the gift. I often try to hand make gifts for people (whether they like it or not!) because it means something more to me. Anyway...
Sometimes, Geoff can strike out a bit. He will hate me for reminding him of this, but the one year that stands out is the year that he bought me all the Beverly Hills Cops movies on DVD. He was absolutely convinced that I had told him I loved them and wanted them all. Since that is 100% categorically untrue, I find it difficult to believe that I actually said it. By now, years later, the consensus we have reached is that he likely dreamed it. Anyway, I opened the gift, and he was so convinced that I would be thrilled with this gift, that he was crestfallen when all I looked was confused. I humored him for a while, but finally had to break the news that I had only ever seen the first one, and really wasn't that interested in it. I find it comical (then and now) but it is indicative of some of the years of gifts from Geoff.
This year however, he knocked it out of the park!! He has been paying attention. If you might remember, I blogged previously about finding All Creatures Great and Small on Netflix and how excited I was (it was great, by the way! Didn't get through all of it yet, but so lovely so far!) He remembered that I said my only copy of the book was my grandma's old, beat to hell one. He found me a first edition of the American printing. Had it shipped in. It smells like an old library and the pages have that wonderful silky feel that old hard cover books get. I love it so much, I am afraid to read it. He also got me tickets to go see one of my favourite authors, Stephen King, speak in July. I think it is in Connecticut, so we will actually probably make a weekend of it.
When Sawyer went out the front door to meet the bus, there was a present on the front porch. She was super excited and brought it in to me. The card was appropriate for a 4 year old (in fact, Sawyer loves it) with unicorns and rainbows on it. Inside, written in the hand of a serial killer is an inappropriate note, addressed to "little girl" and signed "your secret admirer". When I opened the gift, it was this horrifyingly disturbing porcelain clown head. I laughed right away. I knew who it had come from. My friend Barb and Bill know how much I hate clowns. They randomly send me terrifying and disturbing clown pictures periodically. It was the best way to start my 40th year!
After that, I went back and got my driver's license and health card renewed. The bonus was that I was able to do them both in the same spot!! That might not seem like a big deal, but considering I used to have to got to 2 totally different cities to do it, it was a mighty nice surprise.
Then it was off to pick up Sawyer, for her speech therapy appointment. My present there? Why she was doing so well, they discharged her from the therapy early. Huzzah!
We headed home shortly after (after I picked up a scratch ticket that I won $8 on. Score!) to wait for Sebastian. I didn't know at the time whether Geoff had planned anything for me that night. He normally works Friday nights, but I thought he might have made alternate arrangements. I can admit now, I was a little disappointed when I found out that he hadn't planned anything. It was just me and the kids. Oh well, he more than made up for it.
My mom came over that night with my gifts from her and my dad and my brother. Adam is building me my back fence, as my gift. But he also got me this wicked hand puppet, that is a red gargoyle/dragon thing. It is super cool and I have it set up in my living room. My mom and dad got me a Magic Bullet so that I can have my smoothies. I have used it a bunch of times, I absolutely love it!!! They got me more stuff too, like underwear (hey, I really need it!!) and Criminals Minds boxsets. My mother in law swung by too, for a couple of minutes and dropped off my gift (it was moolah, which is always, ALWAYS appreciated!!!) All in all, it was a great, great day.
The next morning, I made Geoff take me and the kids out for breakfast at Coras. He was planning on taking us to do pictures of me and the kids, but it was cold and rainy, so we postponed that for another day. We brainstormed at breakfast what we should do. Sawyer wanted a movie, Sebastian wanted to go home and watch TV. We compromised and went to Limeridge Mall. I ended up using some of my birthday money to get a new coat and some shirts. I bought some treats for the kids too. It was a nice day. I mentioned to Geoff that I was a little sad that he hadn't planned anything to do with my friends. He said that he was planning on having his mom watch the kids that night, so that we could go for wings and beers. He was planning on asking my friends to come, and those that could show up would be welcome.
We ended up with the kids sleeping at his mom's and we headed to Somebuddies. My friends Michelle and Kevin, Teresa, Nyree and my sister in law Dawn joined us. We had a blast. The happenings of that night could fill a blog in and of itself. Suffice to say, I ended the night at the Wrinkle Ranch (a local bar- not really called that- that caters to an older crowd that just wants to think that it's still young enough to be picking up people in bars) with 2 hickeys (not from Geoff or any other boy, for that matter). It was ridiculous and exhausting and absolutely wonderful. So much fun.
That night, we went to my mom and dad's for dinner. Once a year, I get my favourite dinner- turkey crepes with cheese sauce. I love it, Geoff is meh about it, so I only get it the once. Totally worth it.
The following Friday, Geoff had told me that he wanted to take me out for dinner at a bar just down from his store. As you may know, Geoff works crazy hours, and so do I. I am home with the kids, he is with other people's children at his shop. We see each other sparingly, for an hour here or there, before one of us (usually me) falls asleep. So a date night is a rare thing. He had a big release going on for a card game he sells at his shop. This meant there was going to be people there late, until midnight or so, but he said that he had arranged for my parents to take the kids. I could drive out, we could go to dinner, and then I was going to hang out with him and Joel at the shop. I was actually really looking forward to it. I thought about stopping and picking up a 6 pack, and making a fun night out of it.
I got wonderful gifts- a lotion and bath set that smells like vanilla ice cream from the lovely Shannon, homemade chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes from Tickie (who stalked my Pinterest page for weeks, trying to figure out my favourite flavours! Good guess, you nailed it!), a beautiful bird bath and feeder from Joel and Carrie and the kids and a gift card for more and more and more books from Shelly and Nicole. But hands down, the gift that blew me out of the water was the one from all my girlies.
They made my blog into books.
3 volumes in fact. Complete with pictures and quotes, and personal touches. When I first opened the gift, I was completely confused by what I was seeing. Once I put 2 and 2 together, I started to cry and couldn't even look at them. As the night moved on, I was able to, little by little, read them and peruse them and see 3 years of my life spelled out in black in white before me. In the 3rd volume, the inscription is a message from my friends to me. In it, they call me fierce. Fierce. I cried all over again, and still do, whenever I read it.
When Teresa leaned over later in the night and looked in my eyes and said "Anita, you are a published author....."
I have no words. I still choke up when I think about it.
So, yeah, it was a good night. One of the best.
A week or so later, my sister in law, Holly had finally received the package she had ordered from overseas. She and Eric came over to wish me a happy 40th, with an awesome homemade card, complete with pictures of all my family and me over the years (it now hangs on my fridge!). Eric had made me a gift and had been chomping at the bit for a while to give it to me. I was an excited as he was!
What he had made me was totally worth the wait. He had found a picture that he thought (correctly!) was perfect for me, and had burned it onto wood and coloured it. It is Alice and Dorothy and their pets, enjoying tea beside the yellow brick road. The colour, the style- all of it reminds me of the old fashioned lithiographs and postcards that my Grandma would have had. I immediately hung it in my living room and will now find myself, occasionally, just staring at it and daydreaming. It is a wonderful gift, with so much effort and thought behind it. :) Thank you, Eric.
How do I thank everyone for this? How do I every repay the kindness and effort and love? How did I find myself here, surrounded by these amazing, giving people? What did I do, to deserve this goodness? How do I say thank you?
I don't know. So I will just say it. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "now, I am an adult. Or 40, at least."