There is something uniquely special about birthdays- it is a funny thing I find- to stop and think that it is really just another day of the year, but only because people go out of their way to think of you and remind you of that, does it become something special.
This couldn't be more true of my birthday last week- Angela had a really generous host who offered her the car for the night, and so I got a call from Sarah saying that the girls from the team wanted to take me out for my birthday once the kids were in bed and would pick me up before 8! They had planned to take me to historic St. Charles- something that they knew would be just my kind of place to visit- so still a suprise to me where we were going, we drove down cobblestone streets to a cutely lit restaurant for desserts. It was the first time that we'd been out together after the kids were asleep since tour started and it was just such a genuinely fun night out- I haven't lauged so hard that I was crying through half the night in awhile- I left that night thinking that it was one of those times where you feel like you couldn't get happier. You know that feeling? There are few things better than that.
On the actual day of my birthday I was greeted in the morning by Andrew with an eggnog chai- I think that Christmas lights and everything Christmas in the malls already is still slightly premature but the Christmas drink menu at starbucks? Not at all- I would not object if the christmas cups and menu appeared mid October.
It was a busy day for me full of teaching english and running rehearsals, but at the end of the day the team brought of cupcakes from the cooler in the bus that they'd been keeping a secret from me- I was definately suprised by the gesture and all the cards the kids had made for me. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from the kids cards:
" Happy Birthday Auntie Laura! I love you love love love you sooooo much! I am very excited for your birthday and am going to buy you a car. Byeeeeeee" -Julius (age 9)
"Dear Auntie Laura, Happy Birthday to you! When I first met you I thought I saw an angel, but then I realized it was the beautiful Auntie Laura! You are so beautiful. I love you. Please buy enough cake for us to celebrate. When we are done celebrating we will spill water on you (this is an ACC tradition for the person celebrating) You are like gold. Gold Auntie Laura. God's love, -Nelson (a charmer at age 10)
My host found out it was my birthday and stopped on the way home to treat me to a chai latte and cinnamon crunch bread from a delicious chain here in the states called Panera bread. That made for two chai's in one day! That night the girls made me a cake with the host and served it to me hot out of the oven and sang as Gladys dished out big scoops of vanilla ice cream on each piece.
There will be a time when each special day, holiday, and traditions made with family must be celebrated at a distance and with others- but this new little family of mine- of 22 kids, 6 North Americans, and three Africans made that day very memorable- and thank you all from home for all the ways that you thought of me and for your well wishes!