Happy birthday to . . . .

I’m not sure how it happened. It’s not like we planned it. Between my husband and me, our collective five children and their significant others, most of the birthdays in our immediate family fall within four short weeks, January to February.
Yes, just after Christmas, when we’ve all pretty much exhausted our credit limits, not to mention any clever ideas for cheap gifts.
So we line up birthday cards on the kitchen table like jets on a runway, sending them out in precise sequence, hoping they’ll depart and arrive on time.
In recent years, as if our birthday calendar wasn’t already confusing enough, we added three grandchildren, who were smart enough to avoid the January-February window, but apparently couldn’t resist the family tendency to “cozy up.”
The first was born in August, 2o10, on what would’ve been my mother’s 85th birthday, a fact that would have tickled her to no end, I am sure, had she lived to see it. The latter two arrived just this past September, barely 24 hours apart.
My husband and I have birthdays 10 days apart, but we usually celebrate them together. This year will be a bit different because for him, it’s a milestone (like 21 or 30 or six whopping decades or whatever) and for me, it’s just, well, another year.
It occurred to me, between the two of us, we have lived more than 100 years, and ought to have a few words of wisdom to offer to those who are younger and still have a bit more tread to burn off their tires.
So I asked the Birthday Boy to help me come up with, “Some things you should know by the time you’re our age, meaning old enough to know better”:
1 _ Life is short. Hold nothing back. Eat, drink and do as much good stuff while you can. But life is also long, so pace yourself.
2 _ Invest your time in people who build you up, not tear you down. And try to do the same for them. You’ll be amazed at what you can build together.
3 _ The time is now _ for love, for life, for taking risks _ and this is the place. If it’s not the place, go somewhere else.
4 _ Do what you want and ask for what you need. Be clear. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind, let alone, your heart.
5 _ Learn to say no, and mean it, but always say yes to life.
6 _ When recording a game to watch later, be sure to add extra minutes to allow for overtime, or you could get cranky and end up sleeping on the couch.
7_ Three rules to live by: People matter, not things. People matter, not things. People matter, not things.
8_ Life is sometimes like the movies; if you don’t want to miss anything, or infuriate folks around you, silence your cell phone and your mouth and just shut up and pay attention.
9 _ The one and only way to win a no-win argument is to say, “I am sorry and I love you.”
10 _ Mind your manners. Remember to say please, thank you, excuse me and bless your heart. Say it like you mean it. Spend your words, like your money, wisely, and always leave a generous tip.
11 _ Don’t talk about the good old days. It will just make you sound old, and besides, the good old days weren’t all that good.
12 _ Give and take kindness. Forgive to be forgiven. Smile at children, old people and everyone else, especially if they don’t smile at you. Offer grace and get it back a thousandfold.

Finally, I want to say this. The best thing about a birthday is it means you’re still alive. If you’ve lived as long as I have, and lost as many loved ones, you ought not take for granted such a gift.
What? No, of course, you don’t need to send me or Birthday Boy a card (at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077.) Unless you really want to.


  1. Diana Dolecki says

    Your birthday column made me laugh out loud. I read it on my 60th birthday and when I came to the phrase “six whopping decades ” I had to read it to my husband. I hope you and your family always have happy birthdays. Keep on writing. I am blessed to be able to read your words. Thank you.

  2. Vicki in Monterey says

    Happy Birthday, Sharon & Mark – oh – and to Joe, too!! Currently living in MY 6th decade – I think you’ll like it, Mark – it’s really not so bad =D

  3. donna barnett says

    I love reading your column. I hope you and your husband have a great birthday…god bless

  4. Elizabeth Blanchette says

    Happy Birthday Sharon! Happy 6th (decade) Birthday Mark!

  5. Marge Baldwin says

    Birthday blessings Sharon and Mark. Your column was a great pick me up for this cold, snowy, windy Ohio morning. God Bless!

  6. Linda Woodall says

    Happy Birthday, Sharon and Mark! I can relate to birthdays close together. Sept. and Jan. are our target months….Sept.: nephew, brother, dad (God bless his soul), daughter, her s-i-l, and the s-i-l’s son. Then for my grandchildren. Not only do we get to celebrate all the Christmas fun with 4 under 4 (set of twins), but youngest born on Christmas Day, then twins born Jan. 6. It is different, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. They are the loves of our lives, as I’m sure you know. I have been reading you column for what seems forever, and love it (obviously). I am so glad that you updated your website…may you have many MORE years of writing your column!

  7. Naomi Smith says

    Happy Birthday to you both! Hope you have great days. I enjoy your writing so much.

  8. sylvia menard says

    sharon and Mark happy birthday

  9. Peg Miller says

    Sharon, it’s such fun hearing of your interactions with your grandchildren! I used to write to you before any of your little darlings had come into being, and I knew you’d be one of the greatest nanas ever! Thank you for sharing some of your adventures. Your way of expressing your experiences and feelings seems to almost put us right in the room with you! Blessings to all of you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    Peg, in Defiance, Ohio

  10. Jim Kirkwood says

    Happy Birthday to you and Mark. His “things you should know” are wise and funny. Today is Laura’s 10th birthday (double numbers now) making hers the 7th birthday since January 2nd, out of 23 children, in-law children, and grandchildren. But her cousin, our 14th grandchild should arrive next week to join his 3 sisters and one brother. Birthdays are grand!

  11. Barbara Wilhite says

    I’ll save card money & postage. Happy Birthday to you both. As always, your columns never fail to entertain me…even if it means getting a lump in my throat. I’ve even cut a few out and gave them to my then future son-in-law. Can’t wait for the next column.

  12. Cheryl Fick says

    Happy Blessed Birthday Sharon and Mark!

  13. Paula Gibson says

    Happy Birthday Sharon and Mark. Thank you for becoming a part of my life and always giving me a smile with your articles.

  14. Jeannette Buck says

    Happy Birthday, Sharon and Mark. Wonderful column, as always. Thank you for making me smile.

  15. Tomas Jerles says

    Happy Birthday Sharon and Mark.

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