Friday, March 9, 2012

On Birthday Presents

I remember the day I turned four years old.  After I got up and went downstairs, I was presented with a green and yellow box.  When I opened it, I found a small cast iron John Deere tractor, just like Dad's.  Over the years that followed, the little tractor and I plowed a lot of fields and hauled a lot of wagon loads of hay.  We even spread lots of sawdust on our fields with a tiny manure spreader.  When you're four years old, and you're doing what you admire seeing your Daddy do, you're in heaven.  

I still have the little John Deere somewhere.  The paint is faded and rubbed off allowing the gray iron to show through. The hard rubber back wheels no longer stand straight, having worn on their axle.  And the exhaust stack may be bent, but the farmer in his straw hat still sits proudly in the seat, ready to plow another round on the south forty.  The little tractor remains among my most precious possessions, proving the truth of the slogan "Nothing works like a Deere!.

The following year, when I was five, I got a gold-colored cap pistol with ruby red grips. That year, I began riding the range with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, radio cowboys of the early 1950s.  

Of the birthday presents I have received since then, most have been forgotten, with one notable exception. 

On the thirty-fifth anniversary of my natal day, my wife presented me with our fourth child, a nine pound two-and-one-half ounce daughter. I got to carry her from the delivery room to the newborn nursery, a short walk during which we shared the secrets of the world. Since that day, she has made me very proud to be her dad.  Sharing my birthday with her is one of the proudest things I get to do.

So, Happy Birthday Alicia, and many, many more. Have fun learning to be your new age.  You are and will always be the best birthday present your mom gave me. Ice cream will be consumed in your honor.

Which special birthday presents do you remember?

What made them special?