Four Birthday Wishes And One Deferred

by Kevin Burton

   My generous wife made an offer some weeks ago. Really it was a demand.

    Tired of my elusiveness about what I wanted for my birthday, she requested in the strongest of terms, a list of five things that I wanted (see Five Bows On Five Boxes, Holy Smokes!, July 17). 

   The everpresence and ease of Amazon shopping makes deferred gratification largely a quaint relic from a distant era. I haven’t really saved up five wants.

   Come to think of it, celebrating my birthday is a quaint relic from a distant era.

   But I had my orders. I thought hard and came up with some things.

   The first thing was what I call a “China hat.”  Now I know we’re not supposed to makes countries into adjectives in this era. No offense meant at all.

   This is just a floppy hat with a wide brim. I first remember seeing people from China wearing these, that’s why I call it a China hat.  Of course people all over the world, even Cleveland, have them.

   It’s the hat that helps me keep the sun off my face and neck while I am doing yard work.  That gift I got early. One gift down, four to go.

   Two of my requests are “please pay for” things. One is a card for the ride service that takes me to visit my mother and to my part-time job at the church. The other is an hour of studio time, to be used once I finally get in gear to make some potentially marketable music. That makes three gifts, all of them practical, two to go.

   I also asked for a fish and chips meal.  During the quarantine we found ways to get most of the foods we like to eat. We even approximated one by making our own pizza. Not so much for the fish and chips.

   The things I would have to do to the cod that we buy, to make it taste like fish like I used to get at Arthur Treacher’s take it from a healthy food to marginal at best. So I have stopped short of that.

   But for my birthday I am thinking of a place we can drive through and get some decent fish.

   That leaves me one birthday wish short of my mandate.

   The fifth birthday wish I am asking Jeannette to keep in her pocket, or pocketbook.  Yes kids, this is deferred gratification, with some good mental health science behind it. Let me explain.

   Those of us blessed enough to avoid the virus so far have still been tormented emotionally by separation from loved ones, loss of employment, disruption of routine, a horrid death sentence drifting in the gentle breezes.

   The certainty of uncertainty fried all our circuits but good.

  A truth that I knew before the virus has been made more evident: you have to be good to yourself. The casual “take care” that we send along with our loved ones, includes this. 

   So as I try to advance in life, making a difference for God and family, pursuing freelance journalism, music, and whatever else, there will be setbacks.

   Family provides its share of issues even in the best of times. 

   So it is highly probable that I will need Jeannette to use that fifth birthday present to pull me out of the doldrums at some point, don’t you think? 

   The fifth present could also include technology.  I am always late to the technology party.

   For instance, a pen pal from Greece once sent me a music CD and it was at least four years before I owned a device that could play it.

   But some of my pursuits have already demanded that I consider joining the current millennium in terms of gadgets. 

   Truth is God has blessed me abundantly, far beyond what I could ever deserve. He doesn’t wait for my birthday to shine favor on me and neither does Jeannette.

   So today I wash down my fish and chips with a big glass of gratitude.

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