Sunday, 1 April 2012


Palm Sunday. Palms don´t grow here, so we brought branches of rosemary and bay leaves and pine to church, the fragrant green stuff that grows all around us. We stood in a circle on the sunny steps while Don Santiago walked among us, sprinkling the greens with holy water. These will be tucked over doorways and rear-view mirrors, a sort of good luck charm, a sign that spring happens every year, year after year.

Mass was heavily scented, herbal even. Delicious. Lots of people were there, the ones who come for holidays are back again, like the swallows in the barn. They kissed our cheeks, admired the new crop of babies. It was a smiley morning, full of sunshine and good will.

In the afternoon we went for coffee to the Ayuntamiento. I knew something was up, and my suspicions were confirmed when I opened the door to the meeting room and Sopresa! A cloud of confetti fluttered down over my head. My former English students, my neighbors, and an assortment of their friends and relations were crowded into the small room, and they burst into a chorus of  "Appy bortay to joo!"

They had streamers, balloons, even a piñata loaded with candy and more confetti. There was a big bouquet, a bottle of nice cologne, a t-shirt with bugle-beads, a bottle of Valpolicella from the Italians, a bottle of Reisling from the Germans, all wrapped in jolly paper. They had six bottles of champagne and a huge cream cake with "Felicidades Rebeca" written in chocolate on top. Someone had even chalked a birthday greeting on the blackboard.

On Thursday I will be 50 years old. I don´t feel much more than about 23. Today, for an hour or so, was was 8 or 9. I was delighted! I never saw the meeting room so dressed-up for a birthday celebration, and I have been to plenty of those. Maybe it was because of the milestone birthday. Maybe because it was a surprise. Or perhaps because Paddy had Milagros do the planning -- and Milagros LOVES this sort of thing.
It made me feel very special and loved, and it made me miss my mom and sisters, who would have loved it. (I suspect my sister Beth is who told Patrick this might be a good idea. He would never, ever have thought of it himself, because he is not a birthday kind of guy.)

The best of all was seeing everybody there, even the factions of families that don´t usually mix. Everyone chatted and feasted and popped balloons and tickled the babies, and took home an extra bit of cake for breakfast tomorrow. The cleanup was monumental, but with so many hands at work we got that done in a trice. And so I can go ahead and be 50 on 5 April without disturbing the dignity reserved for Holy Thursday.

Yeah, I´ll be 50. And my neighbors like me! And I got presents! 



ksam said...

Very cool that they were able to surprise you!! Happy Birthday, and you share it with my other half!! He'd kill to be 50 again!! :-)

strangerthanfiction said...

feliz cumpleanos (con acente)!

Same day as my soon to be eighteen year old baby!

Beth Caporali said...

We would have loved to be there too!

Sylvie said...

What a great celebration of friendship and love!

And I like your style - celebrate week long!
And remember, 40 is the old 50!

elirin said...

Feliz cumpleaños! The greatest gift is being with friends..

Jenny Woolf said...

what a great surprise! And fifty is a good age, I speak from experience :)

Anonymous said...

aw shucks....what fun! did the dogs get any cake? love, k

Yo Sista Martea said...

Like fine wine, you only get better with age! Wish I was there! Happy 50th!

Laura said...

This is so cool. I imagine it helps to deepen your connection to the others in Moratinos - what a lovely event.

Happy, happy 50th!