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Today is my mom’s birthday, and all week I’ve been struggling with what present to give her.

Those January birthdays sure sneak up on you. The holidays are finally over, but then you realize you have to dig out the wrapping paper again.

When I’m really organized, I buy an extra Christmas gift for Mom and hold onto it until Jan. 13. I didn’t remember to do that this year until we were sitting around the tree on Christmas morning and all the packages had been opened. Oops.

It’s hard to buy a gift for a woman who doesn’t really want anything. You know how it goes. Ask some mothers what they want for their birthdays and they answer, “Oh, I don’t really want anything … just for everyone to be healthy and happy.” Kind of hard to tie a ribbon around it.

A mother of young children might say, “What I’d really like is a day of peace and quiet.” This sounds like an easy wish to grant, but it actually takes tons of organization to plan an entire day of distractions for the kids so mom can rest. A day of quiet for one parent can translate into a week of wracked nerves for the other.

My mom was born on her mother’s birthday and so became my grandmother’s “favorite birthday gift.” Since I was born in September, not January, I can’t make that claim to fame. (However, Mom does like to boast she went into labor on Labor Day.)

Our dear Aunt Josie, my grandfather’s youngest sister, lived to the grand old age of 94. She had a terrific sense of humor and could leave people in stitches.

When asked at a party what she wanted for her 90th birthday, Josie thought about it a while and then matter-of-factly replied, “A shower with Robert Redford.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Everyone laughed while I kept repeating, “What did she just say?”

While my mom has always admired Robert Redford, I’m guessing she’d prefer a nice lunch with him or maybe attend a special screening of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Of course, I could be wrong ...

One thing I am right about: As a septuagenarian, Mom doesn’t want more stuff. She has no Amazon wish list. She has no vacant storage space in the garage. There is not one empty square foot on her walls to add another picture.

And knick-knacks are “just more things I have to dust,” she says.

I could give her a box of chocolates, but she would only eat a few and I’d end up eating the rest.

I could give her a gift certificate to the movies, but the last film she saw in the theaters probably really was “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”...

I picked up a birthday card for her at a pharmacy, but it’s an American Greeting. Since Mom and my stepfather owned and operated a Hallmark Gold Crown store for many years, cards from that “other company” are viewed as sacrilege. It’s even money the card will come back in the mail with “return to sender” on the envelope in her handwriting.

In the 2018 Olympic games of giving birthday gifts, I am placing last. What’s a daughter (who wants her mom to know how much she’s loved) to do?

Maybe Mom will enjoy doing what we always like to do on Saturdays: Have a doughnut from Pfaff’s Bakery in Pontiac and talk over a cup of coffee. There’s no better gift than laughing with loved ones, reminiscing about favorite memories and just being together. Even if Robert Redford is nowhere to be seen.

Happy birthday, Mom!  

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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