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Monday, September 17, 2007

The best things in life are free.

That’s right, the 17th of September in ANY year you care to mention, can mean only one thing; Joseph’s birthday.

5 years old today and he doesn’t look a day over ……… 5.

“Ooh, isn’t he tall?” people say, looking me up and down, reminding me of my very average height.

His birthday coincided with his first full day back at school. This has a sweet novelty about it right now, but I have a feeling that when he hits his teens, a birthday on the first day of school ain't gonna be received so heartily.

Anyway, we had an exclusive little gathering for Grandparents and uncles on Sunday and from a “how many presents did you get” perspective, he did very well thank you. He has spent much of his time zooming up and down the hallway on his new scooter, seeing how far he can stretch his Power Ranger Stre-e-etch without actually breaking it and throwing his Phlat ball across the dining room and going, “oooooh” when it narrowly misses a framed photograph or vase.

Keep going Poops, keep going my boy; you’ll hit one of them eventually.

Thankfully, I think Joseph would agree with me that the very best present of the day was something that money did not buy. Not recently at any rate.

In 1976, the year she died, my maternal Grandmother bought me a small desk and chair which I loved. It took a hammering over the years and I used it up into my teens when I literally outgrew it and it was replaced with cupboards. Thankfully, my Dad has never thrown out any item since …… um……. well, ever really, and so the desk was stored in the outhouse behind his garage.

Until Sunday that is when it was presented to Joseph, having been lovingly restored by my very clever Dad. It had been rubbed down, varnished and recovered in a red leatherette that was startlingly close to the original. The only bit not rubbed back to smooth was where I had engraved my name on the roll top, twice, and Dad chose to leave these which was very touching.

Initially, Joseph was more excited to play with the bright, colourful toys he had opened over the course of the afternoon. At bedtime though, he asked me about the desk and I told him the story of how I came to own it, how I used it for years, how I adapted it to house my CB radio (if you look above the drawer, you can make out two small burnt looking holes, where I had screwed two hooks on which my radio microphone sat), as well as keeping all my important papers (Beano, Dandy, Whizzer and Chips – I was a Chip-ite) in the drawer and lockable cupboard.

Like me all those years ago, he was delighted that he had his own key to this cupboard (in which is already stored some of the above mentioned toys). He is also excited that he will have his own space to do his “homework” each evening (although I'll bet that get’s old real quick!) and specific places for pencils, rulers and the like.

My Dad apparently disappeared out into his shed every evening (and most weekends) in order to transform my tired, sad old desk into something that his Grandson would be proud to own.

And it worked.

As I was telling Joseph about it, he sat in the chair, rolled the top back and ran his hand across the writing surface, listening intently.

My Mum and Dad said it was as much a present for me as it was for Joseph and I am genuinely delighted that it has been given a new lease of life.

The saying goes “it’s the thought that counts” but that’s not always true. Anyone can rush out and buy any old thing. If someone gives you something that is specific to your needs or wants then yes, the thought does count.

But when someone pours their time and love into a gift, that’s when you can say to yourself, "crikey, that’s awesome, thank you very much".

Dad? On behalf of Joseph and myself, what you did was awesome. Thank you very much.

We love you loads.


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