Favorite Birthday Gift This Year

Yes, it was my birthday yesterday, as so many of you noted with your well wishes. Thanks for all of those by the way. I didn’t really do that much to celebrate on the actual day. I considered my trip out to Utah my birthday trip in most respects. (A birthday trip sponsored by my publisher, no less. Thank you, Sourcebooks!) However, we did do a family dinner, and there were a few gifts involved as well.

I’m always a fan of gifts from my kids, as I’m never sure what to expect, and I always appreciate the time they took to figure one out. Last year (or was it the year before?), MC gave me a cardboard xylophone she had made, along with a written piece of music she had devised for it that was the tune of Happy Birthday. I still have it on my desk here at work. This year, she gave me a “Storybook Brawl and Magic Coupon,” which gives me permission to play those games whenever I want to, regardless of what else I have going on. (I have to see if they’re valid with my boss . . .) Again: very inventive. I love the way she thinks.

But I have to say that my favorite present this year came from Daniela. A few months ago, I had decided I wanted to surprise her with a frog stuffed animal. She loves frogs and I remembered Tomas had one when he was little that we had in a box in the basement. I went down early that morning to find the box, and when I did, I discovered that a family of mice had found it long before I had. To make matters worse, it had one of my old favorite stuffed animals in it: Benji (the dog). I’d had him for years growing up, and seeing him in there covered in wood shavings and mouse pellets was really heartbreaking to me that morning. I wasn’t prepared for it. (This is probably Toy Story’s fault. No one wants to see Toy Story 7, where Woody and Buzz get left in a box in Andy’s basement for twenty years, and mice proceed to invade and take over the place. It sounds like a good horror movie, though.)

So instead, I took the box out of the basement, stuck it in the garage, and tried (unsuccessfully) to stop thinking about it. Benji deserved better, but I didn’t have the time to figure out if I could wash him properly, and how to go about doing it. This semester is just too crazy.

Well, fast forward to last night, when Daniela presented me with a fully clean and sanitized Benji. She’d taken the time to figure out all the things I couldn’t, and she’d moved forward and gotten it all done on her own. It was a fantastic present.

My family often talks about how hard I am to get presents for. Anything I really want, I go ahead and get. But the things that I really remember, in terms of presents, are the ones that show time and effort. The ones that signify real love. Benji’s sitting on my side table by my bed again, happily keeping watch over me as I sleep once more, and every time I see him there, I will remember Daniela and what she did for me. Huge props to her for such a thoughtful gift. (And reminiscent of the gift Tomas gave me eight years ago. That’s still on my desk at work, as well.)

Thanks, guys. You’re the best!


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