When I was a kid - and I'm talking about 30 years ago now - my godmother would sometimes take me out for my birthday, and my favorite excursions were when we'd go to Barnes and Noble.
It was always an event. We'd take the subway into Manhattan, an experience in itself. I'm wondering now if the store we went to was a flagship store because, at least in my eyes, it was huge. My godmother and I would find the young adult section - or whatever it was called, back in the day - and she would leave me to it. She'd go off and look for books for herself, checking on me occasionally, while I happily chose and stacked books for possible purchase. Not once do I ever remember her telling me I couldn't get a book because it was "inappropriate" for me.
Laden with shopping bags, we'd go to dinner, usually for Chinese food but one time we went to a French restaurant where I had french onion soup for the first time - yum!
On the train home, my godmother would open one of her books and read, while I scanned the car making sure no one was about to try and steal the shopping bag of books at my feet. (Hmm, maybe some of that paranoia came from books that weren't so appropriate for me after all….)
Now, these many years later, I'm the one who buys books for my godmother. I wrap and pack them up - usually with some chocolate! - and send them up north where she lives in assisted living. Next month, I'll start listing books to pick up for my nephew's birthday. And in the Fall, I'll do the same for my niece. And I hope one day, my nephew and niece will remember those gifts of books, of reading, of stories the way I remember mine - with a smile.
Do you have any birthday memories that make you smile? Are you the person in your family or circle of friends who buys everyone books? Do you appreciate the person who does?