Birthday Gratitude

Today was the 52nd celebration of my survival as we take this all expenses paid trip around the Sun year on year. The overall sense that I have experienced today is one of deep gratitude and appreciation for all the abundance in life.

Firstly, the school wherein I work has enacted a policy of offering each member of staff their birthday off work. As benefits go and full extra paid day of holiday is an amazing gift. It’s profound how being given an additional day of discretionary time (as opposed to “taking a day of holiday”) feels different. As a teacher, who generally gets plenty of non-contact time during school holidays but can rarely schedule a break to coincide with family holidays, this was lovely.

Secondly, the generosity of family and friends with gifts and well wishes was a delight. I have a delicious selection of treats to enjoy in the coming weeks – books, games, smellies, food and drink – all of which revealed the degree to which people “get” me and the kinds of things that I might enjoy. It’s pleasant to realise that you are seen and known by those around you, especially when you are sometimes tempted to believe you are alienated.

Finally, it was lovely to spend time with people in three distinct ways. In the morning, I got to spend time with my wife as we shared presents, blowing out candles, cutting the cake, and sitting together to read for a few hours. Mid-morning I joined a gaming friend from Australia along with his son to play some B/X for a couple of hours. It was a gentle and pleasant stroll through an adventure, rolling dice and sharing a few laughs. Lastly, my wife and I shared a quiet afternoon and a delicious meal at a Nottingham restaurant.

It’s the blending of experience, drawing on all aspects of my life, that evokes my sense of thanksgiving and appreciation. That colleagues value one-another enough to respect our birthdays as valuable, that family and friends send good wishes and gifts, and that time can be spent with those closest to us – whether partners or friends – in recognition of shared experience.

Thanks to everyone who has been part of my life over the past 52 years. Here’s hoping there are many years more ahead.

Game on!

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