top of page

"Strive to be happy" (it might involve a fox tale)

I have been quoting the Desiderata frequently, it seems. It is a good reminder to me that regardless of the time of the universe, there will be upsets and conflicts, but there is still beauty, and we will endure. I don't know what was going on in Max Ehrmann's life in the early 1900's when he penned the Desiderata, but I wonder if he had any idea that he had written a document for the ages?

With all the negative goings-on in the world right now, the last line especially is more apropos than ever:

With all it’s sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

So, are you a person who likes parties and celebrations?

My husband turned 72 years old this week, and he does not like either parties or celebrations. When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said, ”I. Don’t. Need. Any. Party.”

So, with 24 hours to spare, I asked his favourite neighbour couple from our adult-only close over for coffee for his birthday. (The other couple I invited already had plans; the nerve - I was giving them 24 hours notice, after all)

The day of the birthday, I put the vanilla chiffon cake in the oven but kept thinking it would be nice to surprise him with some 'entertainment'. But I had left it to the last minute. Who would be available with such short (no) notice? Then, brilliant idea. I would borrow the family four year old for the afternoon - he was the only one not working and not in school and not busy, and his 'job' as lego master could surely wait, and he definitely knows how to enjoy a birthday. And his mommy agreed.

Two o’clock came, and the 'old' neighbour couple arrived. Minutes later, the door bell rang, and the top of a little blond head appeared in the window. Husband was SO surprised and happy. He now had some of his best friends – the 'oldsters' and the four year old.

The four year old immediately snuggled down with the oldest guest to explain some Robert Munsch books to her. I began to get the coffee and cake ready.

But then the doorbell rang and there stood some former neighbours (young 'uns at barely 60 years old, if that) who had moved to Vancouver but, realizing their horrendous mistake, were back in the neighbourhood making the final arrangements on a house purchase. I seriously had nothing to do with their visit but, by this time, I was looking pretty darn good. We were quite the eclectic group that spanned some eight decades for a birthday party that was not a birthday party.

The four year old proceeded to haul a jigsaw puzzle up from the basement and, with the help of guests some 75 years older than himself, proudly completed the whole thing.

Then we all sat around the big table for cake, strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream. The four year old only had two full servings. His mommy will never know.

Meanwhile, when the neighbour said that he had seen a rabbit in their yard recently, that opened the flood gate that had been fairly quiet for the past half hour. In a way that only an almost-in-kindergarten guy who is now feeling comfortable with the other guests can do, the four year old regaled us with the tale of the fox den (because a fox surely trumps a rabbit, no?) behind their house, and this lasted for some 10 minutes because the route to the back of the yard and up the hill to the forest and "turn that way" (to the right) and over some trees and through a lot of twigs took quite some time in the telling. He had actually not seen the fox himself and the den was too hard to reach for his four year old legs, but his brothers had most definitely seen the fox or, he conceded, “it might have been a coyote”. And I do know the story even had some amount of truth to it.

The four year old’s mommy and brothers came shortly to retrieve him, along with the rest of the birthday cake. They left with jelly worms in little cups - because what would a birthday party be without take-away favours?

So the husband and the neighbours and the former neighbours who would soon again be neighbours finished up with the latest 'news', and then they left. Without jelly worms in little cups.

As we tidied up, my husband was beaming and pronounced, “That was the best birthday I’ve had in years.” (But it was not a party.)

It's pretty easy to be negative today with all the world happenings. So, make a point to be happy. It might be as simple as calling up some 'old' friends, borrowing (or renting) a four year old, and counting on sheer luck to make a party that really wasn’t wanted.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page