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Making the extra effort means a little bit more

By: Nicole Winkleman
Carter County Times

We have recently entered birthday season for my family, as it seems at least half of us are born in August and September. I feel like I’m constantly getting calendar and Facebook reminders this time of year. 

My oldest son’s birthday is actually today, September 9. While preparing for a small get together with family this past weekend, I was reminiscing about my own childhood and how exciting birthdays are to kids. 

This walk down memory lane eventually brought me to my Great Aunt Lena. As a kid, I could always, without fail, count on a birthday card from Aunt Lena showing up in the mailbox on my birthday. Inside each card was a $1 bill. 

As a kid, I didn’t think too much of this. I simply pocketed the money and put the card away to be saved. As an adult, I’m humbled by and in awe of Aunt Lena. 

My papaw was one of 9 kids. My dad has around 30 first cousins from that side of the family and most of them had multiple kids of their own. I never asked, but I’d bet my birthday dollar that if I got an annual card, all of Lena’s 60+ great nieces and nephews did too. The birthdays this woman kept up with boggles the mind, really. 

And, she did it all without a Facebook reminder or calendar notification in sight. 

In today’s technology driven world, we don’t have to work at remembering much of anything anymore. My cell phone stores all of my important phone numbers, my calendar notifies me when I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and Facebook reminds me when I have a friend with a birthday. 

So, I guess my questions is, if we don’t have to put any effort into remembering, does it mean as much when we do? 

Every year, I can count on getting a few hundred “Happy Birthday” wishes thanks to Facebook. I appreciate them all and I know the sentiment behind each and every one is sincere. But, I miss those cards from Aunt Lena. 

I miss knowing that someone made an effort to remember days in advance and prepared. It wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t spontaneous, spur of the moment, or a last minute message before midnight. It was deliberate, it was planned. That, to me, seems significant. 

I received those cards from Aunt Lena well up into my teens, until she passed away. I still think of her often, especially around my birthday. I’m honestly not sure I ever met her in person. I must have, at various family functions, but I can’t say that I remember it. Regardless, her care and her thoughtfulness certainly made an impression on me. 

So, I encourage you to take a page out of Aunt Lena’s book. The next time you have a friend or family member with a birthday, make the extra effort. Forego the Facebook message and drop a card in the mail. You may even want to include a $1 bill in there. 

Nicole Winkleman can be reached at nicole.winkleman@gmail.com

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