“A Day to Remember,” Feb. 15, 2022

My husband and I both celebrate our birthdays this month. One of us is getting older. Never mind who.

Actually, from the end of December until the middle of February, we celebrate eleven of the 21 birthdays in our immediate family.

Yes, that’s a lot of cake. My husband’s birthday was last week. Mine is next. We usually celebrate with dinner for the two of us or a family barbecue where he grills meat, I make potato salad and we buy a cake.

In the non-Covid years, we often celebrated our birthdays at some place with a warm beach and no Internet. Maybe we’ll do that again someday.

I can’t recall what we did for our birthdays last year. Like so many things since the start of the pandemic, it’s just a blur.

What do you think? Should we (a) allow some of the happiest occasions of our lives to fade into nothing? Or should we (b) celebrate and remember them clearly as the precious, fleeting moments that they are?

If you picked (b), I like you a lot. Memories don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. They just need to be remembered.

This morning, my husband asked me what I’d like for dinner on my birthday. As questions go, it was a bit odd. But when you’ve been together as long as we’ve been (20 years or so) you learn to hear more than just what’s said. I knew what he meant. If I wanted to go out to dinner for my birthday, where should we go? And if I wanted to eat at home, what should we cook?

For his birthday last week, we had dinner at a restaurant with a gift certificate from my son and his wife. Both the gift and the dinner were lovely. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

“You decide,” I said.

He hates it when I say that.

Why is it easier sometimes to say what we don’t want than what we do? I’m certain I don’t want a party. I know too many people to invite. And I’d feel bad and never hear the end of it from those who got left out.

I’m also sure I don’t want gifts. These days, if I need something, I get it at the grocery store. But I certainly want to celebrate another year of being alive.

Recently I read a story about a man who was given a birthday gift he would never forget. It was a jar filled with marbles—one marble for every Saturday remaining in his life, assuming he would live to be 100. Every Saturday, he was to remove one marble to remind him that he had one less Saturday left to live and that he needed to make the most of it. But no matter how many marbles remained in that jar, he would never be sure how many Saturdays he had left.

Here’s how I want to celebrate my birthday. First, I’ll sleep until I wake up. Waking up without an alarm clock is a celebration in itself. I’ll begin with a prayer of thanks for all my blessings and all the people who make my life such a joy. That will take quite a while.

Then I want two cups of coffee with heavy cream, the way my husband makes it for me.

Next, I’ll spend the day FaceTiming with my kids and grandkids and others I love, making big plans to see them soon and hug their necks.

At sunset, I want to sit outside with my husband to watch the sun go down, the stars come out and the moon rise up above us.

I want him to cook my favorite birthday dinner (whatever that may be) and clean up the mess without any help from me.

Finally, I’ll end the day as it began, with gratitude. That will be a birthday I’ll remember.

We never know how many “marbles” are left in the jar. I’m hoping for lots more for us all—for you and me and all our loved ones, for neighbors near and far and friends we’ve yet to meet.

Be assured, you don’t need to send me a birthday greeting.

Unless you really want to.


  1. A wish for the happiest of birthdays for both you and your husband!

  2. Linda Seither says

    Happy birthday, Sharon! And I say that because I want to!
    I’ve been meaning to write to you for some time now to tell you how much I enjoy your column. Your stories make me laugh and they make me cry, as I identify with your mother’s and grandmother’s heart.
    Your column appears weekly in my hometown newspaper. I read the op-eds out of duty, but your column is the such a delight to which I genuinely look forward.
    Linda Seither

  3. Happy Birthday Sharon and hubby and many more marbles to come!

  4. Amie Goodman says

    Birthday Blessings for YOU and your hubby !!! and Thank YOU for sharing your thoughts on life with us so graciously. I learn “something” from every column . SO thankful the Salisbury Post, Salisbury, NC has you !!

  5. Sue McDermott says

    A bit belated but Happy Birthday to you! I loved reading this today. I hope you spent those birthdays doing what each of enjoyed and that the coffee was good.💖

  6. Richard Kellogg says

    Thinking about the perfect birthday greeting for you took me back more than half a century. The most popular disc jockey at a Buffalo radio station opened his morning show by reading a list of birthdays submitted by his listeners, which included me and my siblings. After providing the names of those celebrating birthdays that day, he always concluded with “May you live as long as you like, and have everything you like, for as long as you live.” Take that sentiment to heart as you celebrate your big day. Happy Birthday.

  7. Deb Weisgerber says

    Happy Birthday to both of you! LOVE you and your stories (glad our paper-Defiance, Ohio Crescent News–still carries your column, but I can’t wait till Saturday…have to read it online!) You touched on the best ways to celebrate a bday….beginning and ending with gratitude, no alarm clock, your husband cooking AND cleaning up!, and the beach. You have the most beautiful beaches close-by (although not often warm!)…we’ll never forget you introducing us to “Lovers (of Jesus) Point” years ago…Heaven on Earth! May you be blessed with many more beautiful sunsets. (and maybe an occasional sunrise if you’re up in time!)

  8. Kate Sciacca’ says

    Blessings on your birthday…. And grateful for your wisdom here….

    “Then I want two cups of coffee with heavy cream, the way my husband makes it for me.”

    Oh yes, heavy cream…. And if there’s a leftover slice of cake on the counter bring that as well!!!! 😊👍🏻

  9. Another enjoyable column, read up here in the Bay Area :-).

    “at some place with a warm beach and no Internet. Maybe we’ll do that again someday.”

    I’d like to do that THIS year, the year of our 50th anniversary, coming up, an 8th trip to Hawaii. I’d love to visit Molokai again, HEAVEN ON EARTH, the way Hawaii looked decades ago, but it is difficult getting there, long layovers either in Oahu or Maui. Nothing direct, since it is, or was, nothing but a small air strip, LOL.

    But we haven’t been to the BIG ISLAND. So that would be cool, but I just can not see having to breath through a mask for around 5 hours. An hour shopping is bad enough. Plus try to get a COVID test and get the results within an airlines, Hawaii’s requirement. Everything I’ve read, they are so backed up, I don’t see how anyone is able to accomplish that.

    So maybe we’ll wait till someone builds a bridge, LOL LOL 🙂

    Have a Nice Day, Sharon, and Happy Birthday to you both, my 73rd is THIS YEAR, sigh:-)

  10. Annie Hudson says

    Happy Birthday, Sweet Friend! Loved the column as always. I laughed at the “you decide” part. Lawrence also hates it when I do that to him. It’s his worst nightmare. Sometimes I say it just to watch him squirm. You are the best, Sharon!

  11. May you have the happiest of birthdays! The interesting stories of your life is something I look forward to every week. Like you, my grandkids warm my heart! Have a wonderful birthday!

  12. Loved the marble idea. Happy birthday.

  13. Sydney S Love says

    As you say,” Happy Birthday, I am glad that you were born!” I learned that from you and I try to say it to each of my 4 children on their birthday’s. I can’t think of a sweeter thing to say. It goes so deep.
    May your birthday be filled with everything that you enjoy and love. May God bless you with many more birthdays so that you can share your wisdom and love of life with all of us.
    You are truly one special lady! Happy Birthday to one of the Best!

  14. Terri Blazier says

    Love your thoughts on your birthday. Mine is in March and after two Covid birthdays, I have to do some thing different this year. Well, I suppose I will be as I took a big fall and now I am in the same condition you were a while back with one arm and one leg mess. So I will make the best of it but I’ll figure out a way to be able to see my out-of-town kids. There’s always hope and there’s always positives to everything.

  15. Gail Tancreto says

    May you have a blessed birthday! We have many birthdays in February, some for those who are gone, including my daughter. But it’s a great month and we celebrate those together that we can, making the most of each moment.
    God bless and many, many more!

  16. This is a special month for us. Hubby’s bd is right away & our anniversary is the next day. We realize at our age we won’t have too many of these times to celebrate so we treasure them. We don’t need gifts, just time to eat his mayonnaise cake with no icing. Never heard of such a thing until after we were married. I refused to eat mayo until then. He makes the best coffee in the world & I am thankful for our life.
    god has indeed blessed us.

  17. HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sharon and many, many more! I don’t suppose you will ever know how happy you make so many people by writing your columns. I’m one of the many and I thank you for all the joy and memories you have opened my mind up to. May our GOOD LORD bless you richly, more and more each day. Have a great celebration.

  18. I can hear in my heart my late husband saying “Food” when I asked what he wanted for dinner. Love the reminder–thanks, Sharon. And Happy Birthday!

  19. Happy Birthday 🎂

  20. I love this! Happy birthday! I wish you many more healthy happy years with your loved ones.

  21. Very well written. We don’t know how much time we have left. Like your husband mine is the same…don’t leave it up to him…he dislikes that saying.

  22. I love the marble idea. A great reminder.

  23. Forget the marbles. Use the KISS method. Stay in touch with family enjoy your husband’s culinary and kitchen skills. R & R ALL TE Wy!WY!. HAPPY ??? BDAY!

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