Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!!

YES, a few days ago I celebrated my birthday!! Over the years, my kids have given me a wide variety of gifts from the innocuous and obligatory necktie to the much more meaningful framed pictures of them for my office.

During the days leading up to my birthday, I speculated as to what their gifts might be. Since their gifts have run the gamut, I had absolutely no clue as to what I would receive. Little did I know that I would receive one of the best and most touching gifts of my life!

Starting way back when each child was quite young, I started a birthday tradition of getting the whole family up early on the big day of each child, walking into the room of the child who would celebrate the birthday that day, and playing and singing Happy Birthday to wake him/her up!

There were different varieties of entertainment involved; sometimes I would play the trumpet or guitar and sometimes I would play a birthday song tape that I had made for each child. All others would loudly sing to wake the person up!

Over the years, as my own kids became musically inclined, the birthday treats were greatly enhanced; my older son on guitar or bass guitar, my daughter on clarinet or piano, my younger son on the xylophone or a few drums, and yours truly still playing the trumpet, guitar, or portable electric piano! Yes, the entertainment kept getting enhanced each year! The kids never knew what to expect – other than an early-morning musical surprise to awaken them!

So, what gift did I receive on my birthday? Well, here we go:

1) I normally awaken to the alarm at 4:00 a.m.

2) For some reason (I would later learn that my youngest son had made too much noise in the hallway) I was jarred awake at 3:53 a.m.

3) I opened my eyes to see my youngest son standing in my doorway. As I do not wake him up until 5:15 a.m., this was a tad strange

4) I asked him why he was up so early. He did not respond. I asked again and he still did not respond.

5) Then he entered the room, put the light on, and my daughter and older son entered the room with him to perform the following: daughter on clarinet, older son on guitar, and younger son on a percussion instrument – waking me up with their own rendition of Happy Birthday to their favorite dad!!

Yes, silly family traditions are a great way to build bonding; giving of yourself to your kids is one of the best gifts that you can give; and receiving those gifts back from your kids is one of the greatest gifts that you can receive!

My own kids, long the recipients of those early morning Happy Birthday wake-up calls, had now fully paid me back for everything. To watch my kids grow from infants into fine young people who can serenade their own dad with quality playing was almost too much too take. To say the least, I needed a moment or two to recover from the surprise.

But, even though I was awakened early on my birthday, I felt totally wide awake and tremendously loved all day!!

How about you? Please pass along your family traditions (the sillier the better!) that have enhanced bonding within your family!

Paul W. Reeves

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