This past weekend, we celebrated my 41st birthday. I’d been reminding Ali for the entire past year that I wanted her lobster ravioli for my birthday dinner, and it was just as spectacular as I remembered it. I also challenged her to make a lemon pie. I really hope she shares that recipe here soon. I’m convinced the world would be a nicer place if everyone tried it. The dinner is what first comes to mind when I think about that night because, well, yummy food. But that was only a small part of my celebration.
There were also gifts, of course. Maddie picked out a bright yellow candy bar bouquet, which she presented and then promptly asked to eat. Riley and Story joined in, and before I had even sat down, the candy had been distributed and the pleas to eat them began. Ali and I recited our “Not till after dinner” mantra, while I settled down to the good smells and familiar comfort of Ali’s house. Ali is an expert gift-giver; she always puts a lot of thought into it. She gave me a book that I didn’t even know I wanted to read and now am obsessed with. She added fairies into the mix with a fairy lantern. And she pulled my heartstrings with the book she created of our first year of NHN posts. There were so many things in there that I had completely forgotten about and am so glad we have a record of. The girls were so little! It’s the everyday stories that make up our lives, and looking back on those, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to experience so much love, laughter, and life.
But best of all was the time we spent together. Ali and I hadn’t seen each other in weeks (which felt like months), and I was already riding the high from catching up with her that morning at the Y. The girls bounded upstairs for one of their favorite pastimes: jumping on Ali’s bed. They followed that up with high-pitched screaming as the puppy chased them around the house. Riley and Story settled on the couch to talk Roblox while Ali and I tried to convince Maddie (who hates everything now) to eat her dinner so we could indulge in the pie.
Following the pie, the girls became absorbed in Pokemon cards, and Ali and I argued. She messed up an NHN family day, and because I am usually the one to screw things up, I wasn’t going to let it go until she admitted she was wrong. Which she didn’t. Of course. This might turn out to be our longest argument yet. The girls sided with Ali (not because she was right but because they like to antagonize me). Even Story turned against me. You might think that this would distress me, but in fact, it was one of my favorite things about the evening. You see, Story is my girl and is always quick to defend me. By turning on me and joining forces with Ali, she showed me that she considers Ali on par with her aunts and grandma (the only people Story would ever abandon me for). Ali and the girls may not be blood, but they are family, and that is the greatest gift they could ever give me for my birthday.