I celebrated my 56th birthday on Tuesday, January 12. Here were my day’s events
Birthday Greetings from China
I awoke to find over 30 birthday text messages of good wishes, all from China: my students, my colleagues, my church choir members, my friends. Most were a very simple “Happy birthday, Connie!” but one rather long note was from my former English Association President, Ice. (The English Association is our campus language club, usually consisting of about 300 members who have interest in English, although their language skills may be quite limited.)
Ice was my best English Association President. She was so capable! Whenever we had planned events, such as our yearly Halloween and Christmas Activity Nights, Ice was the one to fill out necessary school paperwork, coordinate the volunteers, order the items we needed, arrange schedules for set-up and clean-up and be present for all our organizational meetings. She was always two steps ahead of me, uncannily knowing what was needed before I even thought of it.
Ice had such enthusiasm and a positive spirit for any idea I threw at her. She was competent, trustworthy, and excellent at multi-tasking, problem-solving and organizing. The fact that she remembered my birthday, 3 years later, shows what a thoughtful person she is.
Her words were as follows:
“As a student, my English skill is not perfect in choosing my words to give you birthday wishes. I will try — Thank you for always having been nice to me. Also, thank you for your lessons before. They really helped me a lot. I wish you have a great birthday!”
Ah, Ice! Those words are perfect.
Others came from my Chinese church family, sent by choir members.
Zhang Dijie: “It’s midnight at your place. Rest well and God bless you and your family with good sleep! Happy, happy every day!”
Shishu: “God bless you and your mother. God bless your loved ones! I hope all of you be safe and peaceful. Jesus loves you!”
So many thoughtful notes of blessing me for my day. It was wonderful!
In the post, I had 15 cards that made their way into my hands. Some were new friends, United Methodist Women units that had seen my name in the prayer calendar. Others were e-cards.
My mom made sure to add to the pile with her own.
A daughter can never be too old to get a birthday greeting from Mom.
An Out-of-Town Trip to Rural King
Added to the special day was a trip to Rural King, located in Paris, Illinois which is a 20-minute drive from my hometown. We hadn’t left Marshall in 2 months so this small excursion was one which we found especially fun.
Those not familiar with this Midwest chain, see the below, taken from the website:
“Rural King, also known as RK Holdings, LLP, is America’s Farm and Home Store, a General Merchandise Store, providing essentials to the communities we serve. More specifically, we provide a broad range of necessities, essential goods, food, feed, seed and other farm and home products. Rural King planted its roots in Mattoon, Illinois in 1960. Since that time, Rural King has added over 100 stores in a thirteen-state area (Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia). The heart of Rural King is the corporate office, distribution center and flagship store, located in its city of origin, Mattoon IL.”
While Mattoon is merely an hour away, we stayed closer to home at the Paris branch.
The best part of Rural King, aside from the unlimited, freshly popped popcorn (which is no longer served due to Covid concerns — boo!!!), is that dogs are welcome. Bridget, our rescue from China currently celebrating her 1 1/2 years as an American citizen, tagged along with us. She perched with contentment in the car as we cruised down Route 1. Later, she rode in the shopping cart around the store. There she received numerous pets from customers and employees alike.
One woman, enamored by how sweet she was, scooped her up and didn’t seem to want to put her down. We almost lost our dog!
I finally caved to Bridget’s whining and prancing and bought her a doggie toy, which she spied in the pet aisle. Nor was I the only one conned by her cuteness. She received meaty canine bits from the cashier upon check-out. While this seems to be a Rural King tradition, I’m sure it’s not a tradition to give double treats, which is what she got!
As we left, I was thinking this trip to Rural King ended up being more for the dog than for me. I mean, gee whiz. Whose birthday was it, anyway?!
A Celebratory Cake
What is a birthday without a birthday cake? My favorite kind has always been a decorated ice-cream cake and that’s exactly what I had. Lit candles and a “Happy Birthday to you” singing from my mom made the evening complete.
And the wish upon blowing out the candles? Can it possibly be that much of a secret? Absolutely, a speedy return to my China, where I hope to be spending my 57th birthday among my Chinese friends, colleagues, students and Christian church family.
Thank you to all who sent birthday greetings, prayers, thoughts and best wishes. You made my day very, very special.