Yesterday was my birthday.  In the evening the family enjoyed cake and ice cream, and I received presents from the children.  Eight-year-old Gerard realized rather late in the game that he was the only one who didn't have a gift for Mom.  But he could fix that.

"I'll order you a gift from Amazon," he said reassuringly.

I told Gerard that it didn't matter to me whether he had a gift, and anyway, he could make me happy simply by promising to be Mom's helper the next day.

"Thank you, but, no, I'd rather order you a gift from Amazon," he politely replied.

What did he want to buy for me?

"Something cheap," he said decisively.  "Under twenty dollars."

Frankly, I was a little troubled.  Not because Gerard wanted to palm off something "cheap" on Mother Dear, but because my eight-year-old son had some sort of a grasp of what twenty dollars could buy.  Now it seems to me that a kid that young should still be thinking in terms of dimes and quarters, and - I'm forcing myself to be realistic here - maybe a dollar bill or two.  If he knows Andrew Jackson at all, it should be through history books.

And anyway, readers will know what I mean when I say that nothing from Amazon's vast warehouse could ever mean as much to me as my fave eight-year-old's sincere effort at , say, vacuuming, or maybe at making me a popsicle stick whatchamacallit.  But said eight-year-old would rather be skateboarding than vacuuming, and the idea of spending precious time crafting me a whatchamacallit positively repulses him.

Gerard did not accept my invitation to be Mother's brownie for a day, but Helen took up the slack.  For my birthday, she gave me a scrap of paper marked with the words "Free Sweep."  Helen said it was a coupon good for a thorough sweeping of the house, redeemable at any time, and with the assurance that the job would be done swiftly and cheerfully.  Now for a promise like that, I'd be willing to hand over a Jackson.

Of course, most women agree that superior gifts are often made of chocolate.  This simple truth inspired my daughters Clare and Rose to bring me home chocolate in my favorite form: mixed with coffee, iced, and topped with whipped cream. Let me tell you, if you've never had a McDonald's mocha frappe for breakfast, that there's no better way to start the day.  And when the mid-afternoon blahs set in, the kick of a Panera frozen mocha will make everything bright, guaranteed.  All the mocha-generated giddiness I experienced on my birthday made me wish that every day was my birthday, for the first time since I was young enough to get my face pushed into a cake.

My son Dominic, 14, who already understands the magnitude of chocolate in a woman's life, gave me a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Sixteen-year-old Vincent gifted me with a lovely striped drinking glass, and made me promise to drink lemonade from it while sitting down and doing nothing.  Clearly, those two boys will make good husbands someday.

Does the story of my birthday have a moral?  No, not really.  It's just a sharing of some moments that made a special day even more special.

What are some of your favorite birthday memories?

Copyright 2011 Celeste Behe