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A wish for my birthday

I like tradition. When I was a kid my mom made me a birthday cake every year, shaped like a Christmas tree, frosted green and decorated with lots of color. She made sure that it was a special day for me, even though it was two days after Christmas and it would have been easy to sort of lump them together. She never gave me a gift that said ‘Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.’

I was grateful that she and my dad wanted me to know I was loved. My parents are gone now but their gentle lessons of love and constant acts of kindness live on in my family.

Over the last several years I’ve turned my birthday into my own personal day of service. When I think about what I need, it’s not often things. I have plenty of shoes and boots, warm coats and although my wardrobe is more ho-hum than sensational, that’s by choice and it’s enough to keep me presentable. I also have a good job, a decent home and plenty of food. My sons, grandchildren, sister, brother, niece and nephews are all healthy and happy. What’s to need?

So I give on a day normally known as a day to get. I pick two non-profits, one large and one small to give money to. I choose organizations that help homeless families or women and children in crisis. I’ll pick a small start up that is focused on doing good work, or a group that promotes education and understanding in order to combat misinformation that can lead to suspicion, fear and separation from those perceived to be different based on nationality or religion, skin color or sexual orientation.

I can’t change the world and make life easier for others who are struggling with my modest efforts, but I know that collectively we can.

If your budget doesn’t have enough wiggle room to give money, time is equally valuable. Consider helping the elder that lives nearby and could use a hand with snow removal or a trip to the store, a single parent that might need some childcare relief on occasion, or a lonely person at a distance who would delight in a hand written letter.

In addition to the organizations I’ll write checks to today, I’m going to donate all the proceeds from book sales of American Home Wrecker, if you order the book from Amazon today. I share proceeds every other day, but on my birthday, 100% of the profits of sales will go to the organizations that assist victims of sexual assault. You can learn about those organizations on my website

My birthday wish today is for all kids to have lives filled with love, security, warm clothes, plenty of food and lots of laughter. If we focus on that, the future will be better for us all. 

Lori Townsend