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You know. I’ve missed it. For so many years. For so many March fifteens. Missed the simple invitation.

To be happy.

Missed the invitation because I was looking where it couldn’t be found.

Looking for happiness in birthday phone calls. Or in notes left by friends. Or in lunches out and dinners in. Until, as the years passed, so did the phone calls. And even family, who once remembered to call, didn’t. And the lunches never happened.  And only my mother’s card came to our mailbox. I weeped then–for myself and for March 15.  I weeped for feeling forgotten. And I emptied my tears on my pillow, like rain.

I am forty today. Forty.

And people who are forty do things, I hear. Like clink beer mugs in Vegas. Or strip down in the sunshine in Florida. Or gasp with their hand over their mouth at black “Over-the-hill” balloons tied to their office chair. They celebrate whatever the hell happened in the first four decades. Or maybe they just celebrate the ones to come.

And though I am in none of these places, the invitation is here, as it always has been. To be happy.


Only I receive it this year.

I choose happiness. I say ” YES” to the invitation. And as odd as it is, I can feel it–even now. This happiness. It’s already mine.


I lost to my son at Sequence for Kids and Candyland before 10 a.m. However, I rallied and finished first in The Lady Bug Game. I read eleven library books aloud about Easter and beavers and the difference between coyotes and wolves, eight of which I had also read yesterday. I shamelessly ate homemade birthday cake for breakfast and watched my kids float from their chairs as I lathered homemade frosting on their pieces.

I jigged. Jigged in place while my son wheezed on the harmonica. I praised the piano playing fingers of my daughter.  I batted a leftover balloon back and forth with my son in the hallway until we got to fifty two times. At which time he was no longer wearing a shirt, and we high-fived like Olympians.

I showered.

I have held my son. Hung onto husband. And stroked the knots in my daughter’s hair.

I’m so grateful for forty years. And for the tears that are dripping now. Because they’re for nothing but happiness. In my heart.


2 Responses to “The Invitation to Happiness”

  1. Carolyn Moore says:

    Jeanne I loved this post. My birthday was always the opening week of school. Kids were flying high and my husband, the high school principal, was flying higher so my birthday came and went. I too always found reasons to rejoice and be happy. I am greatful God placed us on the earth “for such a time as this”. AGAIN HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY!

  2. Kacie says:

    My birthday often falls on Thanksgiving, so often it’s about family, the holiday and just being together. Somewhere between my teens and adulthood I have come to like it that way. I am not a big birthday person anyway (I try really hard for the kids but I am not that mom who goes all out) but I always prefer a house full of family celebrating and giving thanks versus a big happy birthday. Troy asked what I wanted for my 40th and I asked if we could skip it, not because I took issue with 40 but because I would rather have a relaxing dinner with family. I love the idea of sitting down and reflecting, I often am running around and forget to take stock of all I have to be thankful for.

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