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You cannot will yourself to have a happy birthday, especially if there’s a pandemic limiting your life. Typically my husband and I would hop a train to NYC and see a Broadway show, then walk around town and get some great dinner before heading back home.

This year was different, and somehow, even better than all that. My husband prepared a gorgeous breakfast of eggs Benedict, then entertained me by using a silly gif that substituted my face for Dolly Parton’s or Jack Sparrow’s. For lunch we a fish fry delivered to our car from the local fish market, then took a dear walk around our county seat where we ate Eclat chocolates and then Dia Doce cupcakes. We had to hurry home, though, for the best part of the day.

It was the Frick Museum’s Friday at 5:00pm Cocktails with a Curator via live stream. My husband made the complimentary cocktail for the piece of art the curator had selected to discuss, and then we set ourselves outside in the January air on our front porch to enjoy it all. There we sat on fluffy blankets and sipped our drinks while we learned about Boucher’s “Four Seasons.” This has become our mandatory start to the weekend. But besides relaxing with a cocktail, the study of art signals a departure from the week’s work to a focus on the spirit and matters of culture.

To make this outdoor experience even more lovely, a young lady stopped by, a neighbor home from virtual college, and talked to us on the porch for twenty minutes or more, an in-person surprise that further bolstered my happy day. And, as if that were not enough, my daughter and husband agreed to take the hour-long drive to the dairybar of my choice at 6:30pm, to finish off my day with a hot fudge sundae.

The rest of the weekend was just as thrilling. We went ice skating in center city Philadelphia, played hilarious games with my sons and daughter-in-law via zoom, then met up with a friend, live, for a two-hour walk around a cute little town where we shared bonbons and stories. I even indulged in a midday movie via zoom with cannolis which my son arranged to have delivered, to wrap things up. Friends dropped by with gifts, and texts and phone calls came in.

A trip to NYC is wonderful, but this year I was reminded how these simple acts of love, the smaller, sweeter experiences, and my relationships with others renew my spirit and allow me to stop for a moment to appreciate all that I have in the world right now.