My Nana's collection of friends over the years was like a collection of teacups; delicate and fancy, simple and practical. Over the many decades of her life, her friends had arrived through some kindness she had shown them or that they had shown her. Her gratitude in enjoying her friends was a tangible thing and no time proved that more explicitly than her birthday. On the few occasions that I happened to be visiting around the beginning of April, I would see card upon beautifully decorated card displayed around the window next to the table where she sat and played cards and smoked Camels. There were piles on the table where she drew and painted on the Florida porch and, usually, dozens stuck into her address book, so she would know whose birthday was coming up, to return the gesture. It is a vague memory, but a solid one: My Nana had a lot of friends and they all showed her some love on her birthday.
So I knew what my Mom was referring to the other night when I told her that, after a day of babysitting Luca, I checked in to my Facebook page and saw over a hundred birthday wishes from friends...and counting! She said, "Who are you? My mother?"
I am a lucky birthday girl. The postman dropped off several traditional birthday wishes in the form of greeting cards through the mailslot in my kitchen door, but, in addition, I received over a hundred Facebook greetings on my birthday this year. This has never, ever, happened in my life before. My birthday comes in the winter and nobody wants to go out into the dark and cold, and if they do, they're buying Valentines so they don't get in trouble with their significant others. This new phenomenon--getting tons of wishes for my birthday is amazing and humbling. I know you're supposed to say that so as to appear appropriately gracious, but I'm not kidding...I am humbled.
Of course, with the Internet and Facebook, it is very easy to virtually pop over to someone's Facebook, LinkedIn or email address, type out a little greeting and go on about your day. If you happen to forget things like birthdays, Facebook (and a dozen other apps and functions) will remind you. Facebook will even suggest that you send your acquaintance a bouquet of flowers or a cup of coffee, like some irksome, electronic personal assistant (as if you hadn't thought of it yourself. And would have if you weren't so busy...).
Birthday wishes are fun. Birthday wishes are sweet. Birthday wishes are one of those things that take literally seconds to complete, but have the power of turning an entire day around. That's why it is so important to value them. Think about it: having people in your life who stop and declare for all the Internet to see their affection for you by sending a written greeting to acknowledge your birthday is big. And? Humbling.
Friends are collected through the ages. As far as I can remember, Nana always spoke with love and affection about her all her friends and acquaintances. She talked about this one's wonderful baking skills or that one's gorgeous garden. If Nana were around today, Facebook would break with all the wishes she received on her birthday. For me, I heard from my "oldest" friend (a girlfriend from junior high school) and one of my "newest" friends (we haven't even actually met yet...but we will some day!) Madeleine L'Engle said, "The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." Or in my case, the friends.