Happy Birthday to Me: My Two-Thousand Dollar Birthday Gift


I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  But contrary to the impression possibly created by the picture above, it was not my fiftieth.  As a matter of fact, it was my fifty-first. Or as I prefer to call it—my forty eleventh.  Because 51, in my opinion, is a numeral without much to recommend it—a rather dull digit without the pleasing plumpness and resonant roundness of 50.   Fifty-one is just…blah.

Anyway, I took the picture above (which shows my address number marker where I used to live) specifically to illustrate the post I was going to do last year about turning 50.  But long time readers of my blog may remember that last year about this time, we were moving.  Well, I say moving, but really, the problem was that we had nowhere to move TO though our house had already sold and the new owners needed to move in NOW.   So, things were a tad stressful and there was no time for thoughtful reflection on turning 50, especially since at the time, I was feeling about twice that.

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, just in time for my 50th birthday, the transmission on my usually reliable Camry suddenly refused to go into reverse, making driving a little nerve-wracking since all my forward progress had to be made with great care and consideration, lacking as I was the option of backing up.  And, yes, I did see the bitter irony in the fact that my car was beginning to fall apart around about the same time I was.  And, no, it wasn’t funny.  Not at the time, anyway.   Come to think of it, it’s still not funny.  

Which brings me to what Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man gave me last year for my fiftieth birthday.  I’d always dreamed of how I might get something really extraordinary when I turned fifty.   Maybe I’d take a special trip since I’ve rarely traveled farther than North Carolina.    And indeed, I did receive a lavish gift that involved travel.  And it cost almost two thousand bucks!

It was (drum roll please) a shiny, bright, sparkling…rebuilt transmission!

Yep, it was a beauty.  And when the man in the transmission shop told us (after gleefully swiping our Visa) that our transmission was guaranteed so that no matter where we traveled in the USA we could get it fixed if it failed, I told him, “Don’t worry…after paying for this, we won’t have the money to travel.” 

He was not amused.

Anyway,  maybe you’re wondering what wondrous thing Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man got me for my birthday this year.  Well, for a while there, it was looking like it would be another extravagant gift, perhaps even surpassing last year’s!  Yes, for a while there, I thought Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man would be giving me a shiny, bright, sparkling…new furnace!

Yes indeed, soon after my birthday, during the coldest snap here in six years, our furnace suddenly stopped. And although we kept it going for a while by manually spinning the blower fan just as we switched it on, eventually, that little trick didn’t work (not to mention the fact that doing that was really tiresome).  We had to figure out something more permanent.  Which we feared might be a new furnace.

To make a long story short—after much prayer and supplication and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and the repeated taking apart and putting back together of fan motors over a span of ten very cold days, we finally heard the sweet sound of our furnace roaring to life.  And we cheered and broke out the Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice that I had gotten for my birthday and toasted our furnace and each other and all the many good things in our life.

“Here’s to the loud roar of our old heat pump and to warmth and to a husband who can fix anything!” I said. “Well….except for transmissions.”

Tom smiled and held up his glass and said, “And here’s to another year with you—and to you making it to fifty-two!”

We laughed and clinked our Winnie the Pooh jelly glasses together, drank, then poured another glass.

I raised my glass. “And here’s to love.” 

“Hear, hear,” said Tom. We clinked glasses again and sat back, sipping our juice and basking in the delicious warmth pouring through the vent, thanking God and all our lucky stars for our blessedness.

So here’s to warm hands and warm hearts, to cold sparkling grape juice, to cars that go backward and forward, to bland and humdrum 51…and to love, no matter what your age.

Hear, hear.


14 Responses to “Happy Birthday to Me: My Two-Thousand Dollar Birthday Gift”

  1. Benjamin Says:

    Hear, hear! I love cars that go both directions–even though things can be more interesting without that option. I like your comment to the transmission man. *I* was amused!

    And happy birthday again! I am so glad to have been your son for 19 of those 51 years.

  2. Pat Says:

    Happy Birthday, Beth! So happy to hear that hands and hearts are warm.

  3. Ariel Says:

    I love this post. 😀 I’m so glad the furnace is working again. I prayed for it and some of my friends did too. But man, I can’t believe that you were going go spending big money again! Golly! Gee whiz! Good grief! On a furnace, no less. Haha…

    Happy birthday again. I’m so blessed to be your daughter. I love you and can’t wait to see y’all!

  4. Judy Says:

    Happy Birthday again Beth. I am so glad you got your furnace fixed. Mine went off during the ice storm and scared me to death, too. We turned it off at the breaker and left it off all night, called the repairman. The next morning it worked fine and we cancelled his visit. Heat pumps are terrible in really cold weather. Your grape juice toast reminded me of Christmas when I was a child. My mother always made homemade grape juice in the summer and we could never open any of it till Christmas and we would have a toast. I looked so forward to that grape juice every year at Christmas along with a big piece of jam cake. It is the little things in life that mean the most and make the memories.

  5. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Okay shame on you for not telling me when your birthday was! Shame Shame. You should tell the people in your life these things so we can bestow lavish attention on you!

    Great post! I remember that whole transmission issue–yuck. And then your furnace–we were praying for it, too. And as you know, prayer works (and a handy hubby helps, too).

    I love your toast and the image of your Winnie the Pooh glasses clinking!

    It must be the time of the dying appliances/equipment: our washing machine and my laptop both quit this weekend. And my “Check engine” light keeps coming on and off. Oh, and Paul needs new brakes on his truck. Sigh.

    Hope your birthday was happy in others ways!

  6. CountryDew Says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m glad you made it through to another year.

  7. Jeff Says:

    Here’s to a happy forty-twelfth birthday! I love the way you look at the world – sparkling grape juice in Winnie the Pooh glasses! I don’t recall ever reading that word image before. It looks like it is warming up a tad – Floyd is in the 50s right now in the middle of the day. May you make it through the rest of the winter without a late killing frost that will reduce your bounteous crop of pears!

  8. eemilla Says:

    Happy Birthday! Glad to hear that your furnace didn’t die on you. With all the problems people around me are having with heat, I will be content to get my 144″ of snow next year.

  9. June Says:

    Happy belated birthday…it’s been quite a year for you. I’m glad things have settled down a bit and here’s wishing you a healthy, happy 51st year!

  10. Linda H Says:

    Hear, hear, indeed! And a belated happy birthday!

    PS If you really don’t want your dull, boring, blah 51…I’ll be glad to take it off your hands. It sounds like a lot more fun than 70! :-p

  11. Helen Says:

    Happy Birthday! Ariel just showed me your blog and your pictures are beautiful!! You’re an amazing photographer and I’m enjoying reading your blog 🙂

  12. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    What a great post! Loved it, loved it, loved it. Loved the picture. Loved how you turned forty eleven (I’m using that!), loved how you got a transmission for your birthday last year and were afraid you were getting a furnace this year. Very funny. And I liked how you ended it, cars going both forward and reverse. The little things we take for granted, huh?


  13. colleen Says:

    Better than a blender! I called my 50th birthday “50 rotations around the sun.” I think we are too hung up with age. I wish we would just say early mid or late 50’s and drop the compulsive counting. Same with the clock. We count every second. I like to just look at the sky. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  14. Our Guardian Angel Has Silvery Wings « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] nice transmission man two thousand dollars to fix it.  Perhaps you remember my writing about it here and […]

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