Part of Stross’s countdown ritual involves making a list of presents he would like to receive. Mr. Digital Savvy is a fierce online shopper who regularly sends me gift ideas. If the date on the calendar is between May 6 and December 24, the email subject line is about Christmas. If the date is between December 26 and May 4, the subject line is “My Birthday.”
No one can grasp the magnitude of this annual celebration unless you spend time with Stross regularly. Birthday plans punctuate his daily life each Springtime with conversations sprouting like fragrant buds. This one happened this morning. I was driving him to an appointment, and he was seated in his spot in our van – middle seat, passenger side.
S: Hey, Mom, did you get the email I sent you today with the birthday gift I want?
J: Yes. I saw the link, but I did not open it. What is it?
S: A video set. "The Adventures of Sinbad."
J: You have already sent me a lot of links for gifts to buy, and you know that I have bought some already. How many gifts do you think you should get for your birthday?
J: Oh, really?
S: I will be 21, so ...
J: One for each year, huh?
S: Umhum. (His smile can be heard in his hum.)
J: (pause, then) So, will you get me 48 presents this year?
S: (pause) Oh, crap...
J: (smiles that her point was seemingly made)
S: (a bit longer pause than before, then a breathe of resolve) So, Momma, do you think we can try that sometime?
Ah, Stross. The wonder of him; the eternal hopefulness that eeks from every cell of his being.
He will not be getting 21 presents from us this year. But no matter how long his life, I am certain that he will continue to lobby for new ways to celebrate and new gifts that he “really needs. I do, Momma. Come on … ”
Oh, Stross. What will we do with you? What would we do without you? In all times, in all places, in all days, in all ways: Celebrate life!