It’s the thought that counts.

So I believe the celebrations of my birthday have finally come to an end. It took a little longer than normal. In fact, I basically got a birthday week and a half!

My book club girls (which you know are my friends and support group here in Houston) along with my Geeky friends made sure I had no shortage of parties or gifts.

The Saturday of the weekend prior to my actual birthday was the first party, and it was just about as perfect a birthday party as one could have. There was a ton of food and cocktails suited to my tastes, including a homemade Nutella Cheesecake with an Oreo crust, cucumber gin and tonics, strawberry guacamole, and so much more!

the thought that counts

And that’s just what was left at the end of the night…

And for the first time since I left home, I had a party where my friends got me gifts that really showed they knew me. There were gift cards to bookstores and shoe stores, a Dalek mug, stuff for mani/pedis, and peach-flavored, Texas-made moonshine/whiskey. Plus, there were a few people who had already bought me gifts to come, like tickets to Lindsey Stirling and Eddie Izzard, and various other things.

Now, I’m not really a material girl; I didn’t actually expect gifts, but it was really nice to have gifts that reflect my personality so very well, and to get them from people that I’ve known for so short a time was remarkable.

the thought that counts

And the festivities were just beginning!

the thought that counts

It was mighty tasty!

The following Wednesday, during our regularly scheduled trivia night, my Geeky friends held a second celebration where there were chocolate cupcakes with really awesome peanut butter frosting, drinks/shots a plenty, and the gift of a hard cider with pomegranate juice. That totally rocked!

Again, the cider beverage suggested an intimate knowledge of me that was a bit uncanny. I do like hard ciders; they tend to be just the right amount of sweet and sour to allow for slow sipping, but that can be thrown back if need be. And pomegranate is a particularly favorite juice of mine that lended a tart flavor to the beverage to make it just about my new favorite drink…

the thought that countsBut the festivities weren’t over yet. The Saturday directly prior to my birthday (and rounding out the week of festivities… I thought), had a large group of us going to see the new X Men movie, followed by dinner and some catching up with a friend, one who suddenly seems to be putting me first, though the reason is uncertain. Could just be in honor of my birthday. Could mean more. Could just be a coincidence or a misconception of mine…

The world may never know.

And then we finally had my actual birthday! While my family was startlingly absent (not a peep from any of them ’til well into the afternoon) my Facebook newsfeed exploded with well wishes from good friends, both old and new, and from old students and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have expected to hear from if it weren’t for the magic of the interwebs.

the thought that countsA friend told me that she likes to count how many birthday messages she gets because it’s just kind of fun to see. And she’s right, it is kind of exciting to check at the end of the day and see how many people love you (which is much easier since Facebook does all the work for you). At the end of the day, even after the final birthday barbecue with some close girlfriends (who hosted/were at the parties throughout the week), there were well over 50 protestations of birthday love (metaphorically speaking), including this birthday card.

Even then, it wasn’t quite over. I had been expecting a gift from one final friend, but instead, I got asked out for a belated birthday coffee date from a new guy! This guy, whom I just met, took me out for my favorite Starbucks beverage and to get to know each other a bit. Then upped the ante by taking me to a comic book store for my first time and giving me the opportunity to pick any gift I wanted! In the end, I let him choose, and chose well he did: a plush, talking Dalek!

the thought that counts

The beauty of the experience was that A) he took me to something I’d never experienced before, but that he knew would be interesting to me because of the information he had gleaned in our first meeting and from my profile on the Geek group site that we’re both members of. B) he took the time to share information about comics which both taught me something about a topic with which I’m not that familiar and kind of exposed himself as well. And C) in the end, it was still about me! Yes he took me to something that was special to him, but he shared that with me, and turned it into an opportunity to show that he did know me even though we’d just met.

It was kind of exciting.

Plus, he finished it off with an amazing slice of super chocolatey goodness at a place I’d heard lots about, but hadn’t experienced first hand. Now, not being a super huge chocolate fan, this could have been overwhelming, but somehow it managed to be charming as we shared a slice of cake. It had just the right amount of romantic sweetness.

And thus, I believe my birthday celebration is finally over. I’m still a little confused as to whether or not I have one more gift coming, since we had discussed it, and it is a gift that is both practical and, if chosen wisely, conveys a similarly intimate knowledge of my personality, which is the best thing about a gift.

It’s never the amount spent on a gift that matters; it’s the thought put into it. Does it show the appropriate level of love? And I mean that to mean either romantic or platonic, depending on the situation. Does it have a story that can be shared between the two parties? Years from now, will I be able to look back and say “so and so really knew me! He got me (blank) for my birthday one year and here’s why that’s perfect!”

the thought that countsAnd the story could be something as intimate as an inside joke, or as broad as just knowing my favorite color (it’s light purple, as in lilac or lavender, in case you were wondering), so getting me something practical in my favorite color makes it special.

For instance, the moonshine was a gift from a gentleman who occasionally buys me drinks, and when he asks what I want, I tell him to surprise me. He put something about that onto the card attached to my jar of moonshine. It was a nice, smooth drink, but probably isn’t something I would normally buy for myself, however, the inside gag on the card gave me warm fuzzies all over.

the thought that counts

This concept isn’t a new one on this blog. I talked about it on Valentine’s day, when I remembered the gift from my ex fiance while simultaneously trying not to be hurt by the gift I wouldn’t be receiving from the guy I thought I was dating at the time.

Put on some Joplin and dance with me.That was kind of a rough day for me. Particularly given that on the guy’s blog, he posted about how he would succumb to the commercialization of the holiday and buy something for his lady, and yet there was no gift for me. I didn’t expect one, but to see in writing where he talked about getting one, yet he cancelled our date instead…it just hurt, especially since he’d never followed through with my Christmas gift either.

Again, I hadn’t expected one, but he talked of making me something that would have been an insight into him, yet a shared experience to remember. And it was doubly hurtful not to ever receive it given that I had put so much thought into his gift…even going to the trouble to get it approved by his guy friends who obviously didn’t like me.

I’d thought about it for a month, and agonized over getting him a cheaper gift that would have been more appropriate to where we were in the relationship, but might have been too close to gifts he’d gotten from his ex (I was thinking a super hero rubber ducky with homemade bath oils), or getting him the one I gave him (cufflinks with 8 gigs of RAM between them). I chose the more expensive gift because it was linked to an inside joke between us, and fit his job, even though it wasn’t an entirely practical gift (he doesn’t have a need for cufflinks very often, and, as one of his guy friends pointed out, they were kinda on the large side).

The point is, I’d thought about it, and to not have a gift the thought that countsreturned, plus to have Valentine’s Day cancelled only a short while later was extremely painful. Painful enough that I don’t want to experience that again. Especially given his explanation that the reason those things happened was because he’d rather claw his eyes out than spend time with me…

I suppose the thought counts both in gifts and insults…

The take away lesson here is that I’m going to consider my birthday celebrations ended and not wait for a gift that has been talked about but hasn’t materialized yet. I’ve had lots of good experiences this birthday; too many to let another unfulfilled promise put a damper on things. If the gift comes, I’ll be delighted, but it’s not going to break my spirits if it doesn’t.

Oh! I almost forgot one more gift that did materialize, completely unexpected: Flowers from my neighbor! It is so nice to feel loved!

the thought that counts

Now I’m going to go cuddle with my Dalek and smile at the new memories it promises to bring and prepare for my day.

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