Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Birthday thrills

Yesterday was Glory's 35th birthday. One would think that having a birthday immediately after Christmas would be a difficult thing, but it's nothing a little word called surprise can't fix.

The first surprise came at lunchtime (which I hardly ever do because work is 13 miles away), when I came home with a carrot cake. The kids and I sang happy birthday and Glory blew out the candles. We had just 20 candles, which probably made Glory feel better. I mean, 35 candles probably would have started a house fire, anyway.

We were fortunate to have a friend watch the girls for us and Glory and I (and baby, too) went to Alfy's. Now, we weren't too sure how it all would fare. Alfy's isn't exactly the Il Italiano bistro. But we were pleasantly surprised. We had the banquet room all to ourselves. Glory's chicken alfredo and my lasagna ranked right up there with what we had at a fine dining establishment, Bella Isola, in Anacortes, a couple of years ago -- and we paid a fourth of the price, too.

But what made her day, I think, was when after I got our waters and salad, I told Glory I forgot something. I had a florist deliver a bouquet of flowers to the restaurant about an hour before, so it was waiting behind the counter when we arrived. Glory didn't even see it. When I brought it to the table, Glory was surprised, smiled, and started crying. As she said, to be able to produce tears for a good thing, was great. Score one for me.

We had plans of enjoying a coffee at Starbucks, but that was not a good idea. We didn't think some yuppies and others conversing or gathered around a laptop would appreciate a crying or fussy baby. We ended up sharing an egg nog latte to go and picked up a nice red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting at Fred Meyer. We then went light looking, and had the cake after the kids went to bed.

It's not the expensive things that really count. Sure, being able to buy her a diamond ring would be nice, and perhaps someday that will happen, but I would like to think memories of the simple and surprising things go a long ways. She seems to agree.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

ahhh....the smell of plastic

Is love an item on a shelf with a price tag?

As our family tumbled out of the van and headed toward, we could detect the odor floating like a pungent haze over the big blue and white shrine. Making our way into the store it grew stronger and the acrid stench billowed out of the open doors where shoppers were burning an incense they did not own to the god of greed and pride.

Granted I am sure not everyone there was using credit for their purchases but I am sure we were among the minority who had the cash in hand to pay for our holiday surprises. But there were moments of temptation to buy more than we could afford. Yes, even moments when the children asked for things that we hadn't planned on getting, followed by brief episodes of sulking upon hearing our refusals.

Is it by buying them gifts with money you don't have?

This year has been a better year, yet we feel more circumspect about our decisions. We want to be sure that the love we portray to our kids isn't the kind that they will snatch out from under the tree on Christmas morning. It's the love that comes home from a long day at work. It's the love that bakes bread in the kitchen. And it's the love that gathers around the table and acknowledges God's provision for our meal. Daily love. Hardly artificial love.

How do you show that you love someone?

Bill and Glory