Celebrate Good Times, Come On! (Birthday Gifts and Prizes)

Hey, it scans!  Try singing it yourself (“Celebration” (YouTube link, Kool & the Gang): gotta sing the bass part too, at least in your head).

As I mentioned yesterday, today is my birthday, which this year falls on Thanksgiving here in the United States, as it does, oh, an average of every seven years, I suppose.  (Though it’s not evenly distributed due to Leap Years. )

Which gives a special opportunity for me to indulge in Philosophical Musings.  I promise I’ll be brief in the musing part.  And there is a Birthday Blog Contest at the end, also!  After lots of pictures, admittedly.

Last year, my birthday wasn’t quite the way I would have liked it in an ideal world.  It’s not that I expect red carpets rolled out, paeans of laud where’er I go, and gifts rained down like manna from heaven (having children certainly cures you of any birthday-centric focus like that real soon).  BUT — I do like to spend my birthday with my family and with the gift of time to do a little of what I want, which is truly a gift because I rarely have that luxury, being a working mom with a busy family.  Last year, due to work craziness, I didn’t take my birthday off, which I usually do as a gift to myself.  Then it was a very busy day for the rest of the family with dance and Nutcracker etc, so we didn’t even have time to eat dinner together.  And I woke up with one of my 10/10 migraines. Wah, wah, wah.  We marked the occasion on a different day, but last year was just kind of a footnote.

Well, this year I automatically had my birthday off work!  There’s a good start.  And I and my family WILL be having dinner together!  EXCELLENT!  There are two of my birthday wishes already granted right there.  I may not have total leeway to do what I want, due to family stuff, but that’s OK (I have an evil plan related to that constraint).

Now, having your birthday on Thanksgiving makes you even more reflective.  I have been reading Nora‘s excellent series this week about thankfulness.  She and I are at very similar points in our lives.  (We need to meet up at some point, being at opposite sides of the same state, but the one time we could have — she ended up too busy with mom stuff.  I can totally resonate!)  Please go read her post from today, (it won’t take but a moment; then, if you have a bit of time, read the prior three entries in her “Week of Thanks”, partly because she expresses so well what I feel also).

We get gifts on our birthday, traditionally.

At Thanksgiving, we are encouraged to reflect on what we’re grateful for.

Well, it is so evident to me that the gifts that I am grateful for, on my birthday and always, are not primarily the tangible gifts that my family and friends give me (the love and affection behind those is what make them the most special, and how they put a lot of thought into picking out something they know I’d love and use).

I suppose that the first birthday gift is the gift of life, of being here to experience all of this wonder and joy, and to give back.

The second birthday gift that I am grateful for is the gift of family.  Here’s mine, this summer.  (I’d like to say that my husband was taking the picture, but he was off doing a music thing.  Imagine a guy in his early 50s with longish brown hair, sunglasses and a slightly sardonic expression, probably dressed in a black shirt and jeans.  Good-looking, oh, yes.)


From left to right, The RockStar (my now 13-year-old daughter), me, the Gothlet (my 10-year-old daughter) in front with my brother behind her, his lovely wife at his side, my mother in front on the right, and my father on the far right.

This alone is so precious a gift.  And one I can’t keep shut away.   People change with every passing day, and our family will change too.  So I will cherish it, on my birthday and daily, and I will try to remember that when my teenager is testing me.

Oof.  I’m going to get maudlin.  And Nora said it all already, so well.  So let me just show-and-tell you quickly a sampling of the gifts that I already have, that I am especially, mindfully grateful for on my birthday:



and Friends (Knitting and Non)


Learning New Things




and Lap Cats



(The RockStar, of course)

and Dance


(both of my daughters are in there with the Degas-style Dancers)

and the heedless, needless beauty that is all around us, earth,



and sky.



(Last winter’s lunar eclipse, reflecting my heart beating as the camera was steadied on my chest.)

So, with all this gratitude and giftiness going around, I’d like to share.

Announcing the second annual Words of Wisdom Birthday Blog Contest!

(Now, if you know me, the “Wisdom” part is somewhat tongue-in-cheek.)

Please leave, as a comment on this post (and if you accidentally leave it on another post, I’ll try to incorporate it too, but this is the Official Birthday Blog Contest Post):

A favorite quotation, poem, motto, song (with a message that you like), family saying, anything that is a personal favorite.  If it’s about gifts, birthdays, November, family, that’s wonderful — but it can be about ANYTHING.  Funny is great!

And, although I said yesterday “winner’ in the singular, “One is the Loneliest Number”,

(your Claymation for the day — are you thankful for Claymation?)

therefore the Random Number Generator will choose three winners (assuming at least three people enter) — because three is just a great number.  (And because my husband will consider it a gift if I share some of my lovely yarn.) ETA: Again, the winners win a skein of yarn in their choice of color.  If you remember, put your favorite color or colors in your comment, otherwise, I’ll ask you if you are a lucky winner.  The skein will be very cool and nice sock yarn, unless sock yarn is totally not your thing, in which case, I’ll find something else!  Contest deadline is midnight CDT on Monday, December 1st, 2008 – so that travelers can return home and still have time to enter.

*Lastly, we already have a winner!  Louise knows her knitting (well, I knew that already) and correctly answered with the detail I was looking for on yesterday’s warm-up contest.


The style of sweater shown (on both cheery models above) is (a Mary Maxim adaptation of) a Cowichan sweater (fascinating history, check it out), and the perky blonde is modeling curling motifs, specifically brooms (aka brushes) and a rock (aka stone).  (Though I love Teyani‘s suggestion that it was a bomb.  Heh.)

Plus, I’d like to see that hairstyle hold up to a few ends of brisk sweeping, Aqua Net or no.  Not to mention the lipstick and the little ascot scarf.   SWEEP!  HURRYHURRYYHARDHARD HARD!  (Another YouTube video.  It’s amateur, because all the professional ones have voiceovers and you can’t hear the skips yelling.  Which they do.  It’s their job. YouTube, ’tis the theme today.)

And lastly, a short YouTube clip for all of those of you who think that curling is boring.  OK, OK, maybe it possibly could be less than exciting if you don’t curl and don’t understand what’s going on.  Other than when streakers with strategically placed rubber chickens interrupt the Olympic medal matches, that is. But if you still are bored, perhaps you’ll prefer this version of curling.

Yes, I have curled.  Why do you ask?

(Don’t forget to leave a Word of Wisdom or Amusement or What-Have-You!)

61 responses to “Celebrate Good Times, Come On! (Birthday Gifts and Prizes)

  1. My b’day comment was a little premature. It’s on the previous post.

  2. Mine was early, too, because I get this computer stuff mixed up sometimes. Quickly ” Are you gonna read the whole thing Without the nephew story, it still applies a lot. Like to “the directions”, “the map”, “the dosage instructuions”, “the pattern”. I could go on, but it really is time to leave for Grandma”s. Have a glorious day.

    btw, I adore that snow crystals picture.

  3. Happy Birthday…I was born near Christmas so I know how fun it can be.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Family. Check out my helpful guide for the holiday…thanks. It’s been a rough Year for many, I hope you enjoy it just as much.

    It’s a time to remember about giving and giving back. To be thankful for all that you have, and to remember those worse off, and those who did not make it to see another Thanksgiving. And, to look forward to next Year’s Thanksgiving as well.


  4. I’m not sure how wise these words are, but at one point I realized that I could sum up all that was necessary to do my own bets job in the world with the following:

    Give thanks.
    Act lovingly.
    Ask for help.

    I embroidered it on a sampler.

    I also have a small rock on my desk at work with the word “respect” engraved on it. I try to bring that spirit to my interactions with everyone (though I’m much more successful sometimes than others.

  5. First Happy Birthday!
    My mother would always say don’t wish your life away! Usually when I would say something like I wish it was my birthday already! I never understood- I do now!

  6. Here are my words of wisdom, stolen from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I’ve used them fairly often in situations involving teenagers and cars (when both happen to belong to me!)

    Also, the rule my mom used to constantly tell us when we were growing up, “Don’t kiss the cat.” We never listened to that one.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday!

  7. Carol Cousins-Tyler

    This was a Quote of the Day, which I liked very much.

    Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level.
    Quentin Crisp

  8. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
    Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity. -Albert Einstein

  9. Oops! Posted too soon. Happy birthday and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  10. Aw, thanks Cathy!

    One of my favorite sayings is “There are no stupid questions. Only stupid answers.’

    Happy Birthday!

  11. I wish you a most happy birthday, and hope you wanted turkey for your birthday dinner.

    If you like curling, you’ll enjoy the movie ‘Men with Brooms’ and may already have seen it. If not, look for it. It’s available through Netflix, and might be in your local video rental store.

  12. OK, so I’m going to buck the trend and suggest a movie. I found the movie Big Fish really meaningful – I guess the ‘moral’ in my opinion is this: It doesn’t really matter the actual circumstances of a person’s life, the “truth” is what everyone remembers it to be.

    So if you aim to live your life in a way that makes you happy and makes others remember you positively, then that’s all you need.

  13. “Don’t become a well rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person.” Bruce Sterling

    My favorite words of wisdom from my stepmother were to choose to be with someone not because you have to be with them but because you want to, from my little brother, the word “narco-sleepy” a play on the word narcolepsy, and from my older brother, who upon walking into the house after driving 2 days straight to make it to our brother’s funeral declared “No one EXPECTS a Spanish Inquisition!!” and added levity when it was most needed.

  14. I guess I have two current faves since I started teaching math.
    1. If I’m talking, you should be taking notes.
    2. When in doubt, factor.
    Glad your day was happy, Laurie

  15. martha in mobile

    “Only boring people are bored.” This annoys my daughter (when I say it) as much as it did me (when my mother said it), but it’s true!

  16. heh heh.. Yeah, I knew it wasn’t a bomb, but just couldn’t resist.
    Happy Birthday, and here’s a favorite quote:

    “What great thing would you atempt if you knew you could not fail?” (Robert H. Schuller)

  17. Happy Happy Birthday!! (love the snarky notepaper!). I’m drawing a blank… so here’s something I wrote in a journal I write in when things are rough (and I’ve been writing in these last few weeks…) “The best way to give advice to children is to find out what they want and advise them to do it” (Harry Truman).

  18. Happy Birthday to you!

    “Hope and keep busy” has gotten me through the toughest times. It’s attributed to Abigail May Alcott, the mother of Louisa May Alcott.

    Love the knitter’s bank by the way.

  19. Hey, happy (belated) birthday!

    I was listening to a clip on the Story Corps website the other day, and one of the folks said something that brought tears to my eyes. I immediately wrote it down, and I’ll share it with you:

    “Be such a man [or woman], and live such a life, that if everybody lived a life like yours, this earth would be a paradise.”

    And I got turned on to curling a few Winter Olympics ago. It’s actually a very strategic sport, and lots of fun to watch!

  20. Happy Birthday!

    I can’t wait to see you tomorrow morning and say the same in person.

    When you return home, here’s a few words from Rumi for you to share with Mike– perhaps while dancing:

    “And I am a flame dancing in love’s fire,
    That flickering light in the depths of desire.”

  21. “All models are wrong, but some are *useful*.”

  22. Belated happy birthday!
    C.S. Lewis said: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough, to suit me.”

  23. Happy Birthday! My two quotes have nothing to do with each other, but I think they’re both great!

    “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes” — Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke

  24. You Are Never Alone(@)%-<—————–

    “Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”-Angela Monet

  25. Here are some of mine:

    “Victory will never be found by taking the path of least resistance.”–Winston Churchill

    I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” –Helen Keller

    “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not our circumstances.” –Martha Washington

  26. “yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift, that is why it’s called the present!”

    Quote from kung foo panda! Ok where I get my life changing quotes from doesn’t matter, right?

    Happy Birthday love have a great one!

  27. My favorite “words of wisdom” come from Eleanor Roosevelt. “You must do the thing you think you can not do.”

  28. I’ve always loved this:
    It’s kind of long, but worth it…..

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
    Avoid loud & agressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your acheivements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many people strive for high ideals; and everywhere the world is full of heroism.
    Be yourself, Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of Spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Beyond a wholesome disipline, be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you the, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be Happy.

  29. I am also a Thanksgiving baby. Born on T-day and last year was my year (Nov 22).

    My friend and I are both breast cancer patients and this year we did a cancer walk together in October. We were interviewed by a couple of high school girls asking what had changed since our diagnosis. Adriana said:

    “I’m happier now when I’m happy”

    The girls didn’t understand at all. I understood perfectly. I think that says something very deep about appreciating what you have.

  30. Happy birthday!

    My favorite quote (today) is the first line of the poem by Emily Dickinson – “hope is the thing with feathers” – I love birds, and each bird I see brings Emily’s phrase to mind.

    Sock yarn? Lovely! greens would be nice..

  31. I’m a big Wizard of Oz fan and “There’s no place like home” just about sums it up for me.

    My favorite color is purple.

  32. Life is too short to knit with ugly yarn!!

  33. Woops – fav color PURPLE!

  34. Favorite quote (just made up). You can never be too rich or have too large a stash.

    Happy birthday.

  35. Thanks for hosting this contest!

    My dad always said, “Drag the body into the house before you call the cops.” Wise indeed.

    One thing I like to say to my kids and I hope they listen is:

    Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the idea that something else is more important than fear.

  36. Happy Birthday!!

    My new favorite quote is one by Helen Keller:
    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

    The photos you share are wonderful!

    I lean toward muted colors, heathers, and naturals.

  37. Something I learned a couple of decades ago, but still have to remember at times, is to live — and make decisions — with no regrets. This means that I try (not always successfully) to look forward and see if I might regret the action that I’m about to take. This doesn’t always work at yarn sales. 🙂

  38. Happy Birthday!

    When I was a kid, I lived with an aunt. She was in her 80’s and we were young. When we would whine about being too tired to do something, she’s say “I hope that when I get old like you, someone takes me out and shoots me.” Now when my daughter whines, I find myself saying it too.

  39. happy birthday~!

    Hmm, well when growing up i always seemed to relate to ‘keep passing the open windows”

    but otherwise from garfield:

    I have a buddy, my buddy’s a toad
    Right now my buddy is flat on the road
    But he is my buddy, my buddy to stay
    Until he dries up and blows away.

  40. I’m coming up on my 40th… the thought often runs through my head –

    “Where am I going? And what am I doing in this handbasket?”

    Happy Birthday!

  41. Happy birthday!

    I used to have a quote from the book “Woman Warrior” on the wall in my office, many years ago. It is the story of a girl in China who disguises herself as a man to be a warrior. I don’t have it exactly any more but it went something like:

    no matter how bravely they fought or how high they scored on the examinations, their contributions never were as valuable as a man’s

    As a woman engineer, it strikes close to home

  42. In honor of your lap cat and kitten, I give you the cat’s quote. When the cat falls asleep and rolls off the table, it looks up with indignation and says “I meant to do that!”

    This has become our family’s theory of performance. Singing or playing, treat any little mistake like “I meant to do that.”

    It’s always been hard to choose my favorite color between blue and green. Both are lovely!

  43. I love all the photos.

    My favorite quote (attributable to my evil friend in our LYS):

    “Oooh it’s on sale – we NEED more Noro”

    I know, I know, it’s not deep or moving, but it is from the heart.

    Happy birthday and I’m a purple person.

  44. Happy Birthday and Happy Thanksgiving! I’m incredible grateful for so much: I have a terrific life with a great job, great husband, great cats, great family, etc. And I was lucky enough to be born in a time and place that allows me to make my own choices re: the above. Yay!

    As for a word of advice, “When you’re going through Hell, don’t pitch a tent!” In other words, don’t wallow in how bad things are. Closely related: “If you keep finding yourself in a hole, stop digging!”

  45. Happy Birthday and Thanksgiving (late)!

    My favorite quote is, “The middle of the road is the worst place to drive.”

  46. Happy Birthday!
    One of my favorite comedians is Eddie Izzard.My daughter and I are constantly quoting him.One of our favorites is” Cake or death? I’ll have the cake please!”

  47. This is one of my absolute favourite poems. I love the intensity and truth it speaks. It also helps me remember that the people we love, we carry them with us wherever we are, in our hearts.

    Happy birthday!

    i carry your heart with me
    by e. e. cummings

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    ee cummings

  48. Heres my contest, and a what a fun contest it is, entry:

    Here’s to your enemies enemies! (an irish toast)

    the love of a man and a woman truly given and truly received, makes up for the hatred of millions.

  49. Happy Birthday!!! The quote that comes to mind is from my Dad. When my DH and I were on our way to be married 19 years ago, Dad shook his hand, gave me a hug, and said, “Now remember, No Deposit. No Return.” 🙂

  50. You’ve gotten a lot of great ones! One of my favorites is “Someday I aspire to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am”.
    I like any color of the rainbow! 🙂

  51. I put this on handouts for my students. It summarizes nicely my feelings on the misuse of “it’s”: “Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, “Good food at it’s best”, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”
    –Lynne Truss, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”

  52. Happy Birthday! One of my favorite sayings is something along the lines of “someday I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Not sure if that’s exactly right, but that’s the sentiment.

  53. Happy (belated) birthday!

    I don’t think it’s my all-time favourite quotation, but it’s been running through my head all day:
    “-You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
    -What mood is that?
    -Last-minute panic.”

    Yes, it’s from Calvin and Hobbes.

    I spent my day writing an essay.

  54. Glorious, glorious pictures. Happy birthday!

    “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.” –Meister Eckhart

    (I know, I’m late. I’m not in it for the contest.)

  55. Your Noro scarf is so vivid!

    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

  56. Happy birthday! At this time of year I always think about Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.”

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.
    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.
    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.
    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

  57. Oh, I’m so far behind – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    hmm… my favorite words would be from a Jimmy Buffett song –

    “If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
    It will make you strong
    Don’t try to explain it just nod your head
    Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”

    Hope you had a great day!!

  58. I have a November birthday – the 16th. I guess my favorite song would be Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky. And a saying “it can wait till tomorrow”.

  59. I read this is The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (if I’m remembering correctly and I think I am). “Those who know not how to seek shall never find.”

    In Libraryland it makes me think of all the people blindly typing keywords into library catalogues and search engines/databases without the tools to use these resources to their fullest potential. It also makes me think of lost knitting in my house 🙂

  60. a small quote, but a favorite:

    Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
    –William Morris

  61. Hi!
    I’ve been wanting to knit the noro striped scarf, and I was considering using the colors 252 and 258 when I found your blog. Do you have a picture of the completed scarf so I can see what it would look like in the end? Thanks!
    You can email it to me at taniamnor@gmail.com =)

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