Cheers! Salute! Cin cin! Salud! I’m 35, alive and well. And boy does it feel good.
Here’s a secret about me, in case you didn’t know: I love birthdays. Love them. I love celebrating people and giving gifts and being reminded of how awesome life is and how fortunate we should feel being one year older. I love the candles and balloons and hugs and cards and cake (and/or cupcakes; both are perfectly acceptable) and wine and cocktails and food. And most importantly, I love the moments, the oh-so-special and intimate moments with those you are celebrating with. Because let’s be honest. Blowing out candles, eating cupcakes and drinking wine alone is just another Thursday night, right?! Ha. Maybe the cupcakes and wine part.
But blowing out candles, eating cupcakes and drinking wine with friends and family (or friends you consider family), celebrating life, is truly a gift in of itself. It’s a blessing. A blessing that, this year, for me, made my heart explode.
Rick, knowing I love hosting gatherings in our house, had an idea to hire Mr. Paella for my thirty-fifth birthday. Mr. Paella is an alleged true Miami experience…a right of passage, if you will. So. I invited some of our new-found, special Miami friends to come over, drink Sangria, eat paella and toast to 35. Backyard, candles, dining al fresco, good food, even better people. Birthday perfection. Well, except that it rained and so the party and paella cooking had to come inside. #improvise
And an hour before party time, I was welcomed at my front door with our dear friends from Chicago. What?! Surprise! And then moments later, two more friends from Chicago came in through the back door. Double surprise! Oh my gosh…
And then one-by-one, more people came through the door. And drinks were served. And worlds started colliding like fireworks on the fourth of July. And my heart began to do a little pitter-patter. Because looking around your house and seeing the faces of people you call friends, people you love and people I never even knew existed six months earlier is remarkable.
And we toasted. And I opened gifts. And we ate. And talked. And my Irish friend talked to my Cuban friend. And my friends from Palestine talked to my friends from the Ukraine and Russia. And my Chinese friends talked with my European friends who talked with my Argentinean friend who talked with my Japanese husband.
And this is the beauty of birthdays. Of celebrating life. Of taking a risk and moving to Miami where just months earlier, I didn’t know anyone. This is the beauty of people coming together, in our house, and remembering, God does all things for good. And God is creative and awesome and faithful.
I am so incredibly thankful to be thirty-five. To have a husband that plans super fun parties and surprises me. For friends that show up, near and far. For a sweet daughter who slept 12 hours (best birthday present ever) that night…and the next. For cupcakes and food and wine. For a reason to toast and celebrate life. For Miami. The weather, the people, the paella.
Here’s to a brilliant year ahead.