What’s The Perfect Birthday Gift?

You shop and shop for the perfect gift, well at least you should spend a good amount of time searching out that gift if you care for the special birthday guy or gal.  But even when you spend all that time shopping, sometimes that gift you spent hours hunting down in that specialty store can be met with an “Oh, that’s nice.”  Not the response you hoped for.

This has never happened to me.  I have just heard that it has happened to other people.  I love each gift I am given, no matter what.  And people love all of the gifts I give.

And this year I unwrapped the perfect gift.

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Time spent with my friends.  Yep, I’m that easy.  Even though I enjoy opening funny birthday cards almost as much as I love ripping through wrapping paper, I cherish my time with my friends and family.

After moving back to Colorado last June, I was actually a little nervous about my birthday this year.  I’d spent three years forming some awesome friendships in Guatemala but then decided to move back to the states and had to start from scratch.  Even though I’d lived in Colorado most of my life, after living outside of the country, I felt like I had lost contact with most of my college friends.  Life had moved on, and so I saw moving to Denver as fresh start.

The fresh start has been great.  Over the last couple of months, I have really started to form some strong meaningful friendships, but when Michael Gallup moved his family (this includes his cute little daughter Marry Grace and Cliff Hutchison his best friend) I wasn’t really sure what to expect for my birthday due to the fact I’d grown really close to the Gallups.

The Gallups took me in and included me in their community.  We’d gone to movies and shared meals together.  And so as my birthday rolled around, I was sad that they wouldn’t be there, just as sad about not having any of my former students or friends in Guatemala to celebrate the day I turned 28 with.

I love big celebrations just as much as time with my friends, probably because a big celebration means a lot of people to be around.  Last year I went zip-lining and had a dinner party at Don Rodrigos, a quant restaurant in Xela.  This year turned out to be just as special.

My dad, who I consider one of my best friends, and I hiked up into the mountains on my favorite trail near our house.  As we crunched our way through the deep snow we talked about stories, how we can live spiritually, and just life in general.  The snow made the trail hard to hike, every step was a full step forward and a half step back.  But we plowed on until we made it to the Lost Trail trail marker.  The aspen trees had lost their golden leaves a long time ago, but with the sun light hitting them just right, even in their naked state, they looked beautiful.

I love aspens because they live as one organism.  Each tree supports the one next to it.  As I hiked down to the truck with my dad, I realized that I’ve been in a season of nakedness too.  All of my old friendships have been stripped away.  And yet I am not alone.

That night I went out to dinner with some great new friends.  We stuffed ourselves with rich food from Merle’s in downtown Littleton and then made our way back to the Pickard’s house to play wii.  It might not have been as adventurous as zip-lining, but it was just as special.  I was reminded that, even though it might not look the same as my life in Guatemala, I was given something amazing for my birthday, an awesome group of friends.  And I wouldn’t exchange that gift for anything.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my 28th Birthday special!  And to all my friends in Xela who have made my life very special, see you in a week!!!

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