When we were kids, my presents were always the easy ones to find. Hard, rectangular and easy to stack — my stash of books increased with each holiday. My parents delighted in finding some Junior Illustrated Classic, I hadn’t yet discovered or the next volume in the Little House books… and once, I got all three Alcott books about the March family at once!

Knowing I would get books, making birthday lists became a game…. usually I asked for a tiara of some sort (shouldn’t all girls have at least one) or other jewel-like treasure, to be whisked to some fabulous concert on another continent, to be adored as a goddess of some degree of perfection (for the longest time, it was ‘she of the perfect calf’, however, not enough stilettos in the past few years), some pet of the esoteric sort – otters, dolphins, marmosets, ocelots all easily domesticated onto the farm of course, and/or a small country, Wales has long been on the list, really just Wales — it’s possibly the most adorable place I’ve never been on earth.

Now my mother was a flower person — she often told Daddy, the brothers and I, “give me flowers while I’m living, because I won’t see them when I’m dead…” Morbid as that was, she got flowers from one or all of us every single holiday. She liked them to show up where she was volunteering, because no one knew she got them if they just came to the house — so I suspect part of her delight came from other people reacting to her joy. I can understand that — the first flowers I got from a dear old love came to my office the Monday after our first date. My boss teased that my feet didn’t touch the ground for several days, as the bouquet fragranced my desk and I had to look past their full-blown beauty and smile delightedly as I encountered each client. I keep fresh cut flowers in the apartment to make me smile as I open the door — mostly, however they are delightful to discover as I drive some backroad and spy them spilling over a forgotten hedge.

Nowadays, given Wales and a menagerie would strain the apartment’s capacity and might raise legal/habitat issues, and neither jewels nor adoration are strewn about like shells on a beach,  books and music are always the first things after daughters and basic life necessities on my lists (though I enjoy a massage and a mani-pedi as much as the next girl, thanks darlings). Having witnessed life’s fragility and knowing far too many friends without the luxury, sharing my birthday with the daughters and a song or two works as the absolute best day ever!

Happy day songs:

  • HeyThere Delilah (Plain White Ts) — he’s traveling, he loves her and soon they will be together… cheesy, I know.
  • Ordinary Day (Dolores O’Riordan) — front woman for the Cranberries has this lovely ballad that causes an immediate smile, infused with some random summer thought
  • Turn out the Lights & love me tonight (Don Williams) — the radio propped in the window, behind the screen & turned up so you could listen as shelled, shucked, hulled or some other porch chore in the summer.
  • Any Kind of Lie (Marti Jones) — great little minor key song from and Indie artist from NC
  • All this time (Sting) — with a bow, for my birthday — his songs are lovely — melodically & lyrically — and the random pomposity just a piquant spice
  • Big Wheel  (Tori Amos) — one of those sing-anything voices — here, a driving rockabilly
  • Brokedown Palace (Grateful Dead) — you look at the lyrics and it makes no sense why this song would make me smile from the toes up…..
  • Someone to Come Home To (Animal Logic) — Stewart Copeland, Stanley Jordan & Deborah Holland on vocals — very much of the 90s, but nonetheless awesome!
  • Ever Fallen in Love (Stiff Dylans) — vintage punk from a 21st century “sorta” boy band, who’ve since disbanded.
  • There’s a Fine, Fine Line (from Avenue Q) — love this musical — great lyrics like: “There’s a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie;/And there’s a fine, fine line between “You’re wonderful” and “Goodbye.”/I guess if someone doesn’t love you back it isn’t such a crime,/But there’s a fine, fine line between love/And a waste of your time.”
  • You Must’ve Fallen (Ben Taylor) — on the other hand, delightful little love song..
  • A Thousand Miles (Vanessa Carlton) — partly because traveling would just be fun.
  • I Will Wait (Mumford & Sons) — even falling into hoopla, they are quite, quite fantastic
  • Frank & Ava (Suzanne Vega) — sweet, lilting song about a dysfunctional relationship — just a note* Ava Gardner & I share the same hometown…
  • Blackbird (the Beatles or the daughters) — a favorite song that just makes any day better
  • Valentino (Diane Birch) — singer/songwriter with a rich, jazzy voice — and once in a while awesome songs
  • At this moment (Billy Vera & the beaters) — yes, I think of Alex P. Keaton when I hear this — but it evokes such a wave of “where & when”
  • Little Black Dress (Sara Bareilles) — this doesn’t have to be a sad song/not with my little black dress on — love this song — great dress, great heels anything is possible
  • Moondance (Van Morrison) — it’s kind of an autumn song, but those first few notes play and everything just feels smoother
  • Mercy (Duffy) or One Less Bell to Answer (Sheryl Crow) — both kind of throwback sounds, Sheryl is covering Burt Bacharach, while Duffy’s voice has that 60s R&B richness
  • King of the Road (Roger Miller) — this song is summer, driving highways with the radio cranked — Rufus Wainwright’s version is pretty awesome as well!

There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.–> Charles Dickens


Take care, Aly

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