Tuesday was my birthday. And of the forty-one years I’ve been tooling around this planet, I’d say at least 39-and-a-half have been pretty fabulous. From oft told stories of my colicky youth, I was a pill of a baby… and you all know how crappy 40 turned out to be. Apparently, my hardest days have been the ones I spent unintentionally bald. Maybe it wasn’t reflux and teething after all; I was just a ridiculously vain infant whose wailing could have been waylaid with a wiglet.
But even with supershort man hair, I had a banner birthday. Lovely Susie (former ballerina, inch long eyelashes, unplaceable European accent, Prada beach bag… I feel prettier just being near her) treated me to an afternoon at her pool where we tanned our legs and gossiped around happily splashing children. Later, we accompanied them to seaside bingo and toasted 41 years (and Teddy’s big win!) with bubbles. Bernie arrived and we ate birthday cake with sleepy boys, and then went out for tapas and Prosecco without them. Little dresses, blossoms, and sweet somethings continue to arrive by post. And from Grandma Sharon, lovely and generous Grandma Sharon… a toaster.
I’m sure nothing says 41-and-Cancer-Free quite like the capacity to crisp two bagels at once. I know she’ll forgive a bit of teasing for sending every bride’s least favorite gift, because it’s my mom I’m going to throw under the bus here. I’m sure that it was Grandma Karen who insisted our kitchens were woefully deficient in bread-browning ability. And a Happy Birthday Toaster is just really, really funny. It’s funny because I already own two perfectly usable toasters. It’s funny because my mother hasn’t eaten carbs since that Atkins guy convinced everyone to eat slabs of bacon and bun-less burgers. It’s funny because the Teeny Twin Grandmas talk to each other a minimum of two times a day, often a full score of calls a week, and from these discussions between the two most elegant women I know, somehow the Toaster Notion landed and stuck.
I have a few theories about how the Birthday Toaster idea was launched. The first is the question of what-do-you-get-Britt-who-has-everything-because-Bernie-has-Amazon-Prime? It’s quite flattering to think that after six months of Living with Lees, the only thing my mother finds wanting in our life is a (better) toaster. Apparently our shower curtain rings, eggbeaters, snow scrapers, and napkin holders are up to snuff. The second theory is that the toaster was featured on QVC. My mother is a home shopping network devotee and has the costume jewelry and featured caller bragging rights to prove it. But as the return receipt is from Macy’s, this theory is debunked. The final possibility is that mom noticed that our Cape House toaster appears to work by heating itself to sun-surface temperatures, necessitating another Grandma Karen gadget obsession, toast tongs, to rescue an inexplicably still-limp breakfast. So I suppose I should admit to the likely inspiration for this particular birthday appliance. My toaster sucks. And so does this thank you note. Um… thanks, Aunt Sharon! Sending sweet cinnamon toasty thanks from all of us.
Next week the entire Stockton clan will convene on the Cape for post-Cancer fun. Little Brother Patrick, Grandma Karen and Pop Pop, and Zealot Sister’s Family including her two lovely children (but not her less lovely dogs) will join us for a reunion that has never been this complete. I can’t wait to hear the giggles of pajammied, bunk-bedded cousins, for Uncle Bob to teach everyone The Coffee Song, for Uncle Patrick to take the boys golfing (and endure the umpteenth query about his smoking habit), for Scary Aunt Paige to whip my boys into table-clearing, yes-ma’am-ing shape, and to fill the recycling containers with an embarrassment of bottles. With this many people in the house, Paige is already concerned that I’ll be working too hard chopping, peeling, pouring, and grilling for everyone, but she doesn’t realize how wonderful it is to feel finally up to the task. She also doesn’t realize that I won’t be doing any of that. We’re having toast.