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Birthdays. They mean so many different things to different people. There are those who don’t celebrate the day at all, it’s just a day in a month in a year. Then there are those who love to celebrate that passage of time in different ways ranging from a small family get together to elaborate parties.

I have celebrated my birthday in so many different ways, as a child I looked forward to it for a month and after the party was over I was nostalgic for a week, wistfully remembering the cake, my friends,  the music and of course the pretty dress! As I grew older I had smaller parties with my friends which soon graduated to little dinners or lunches. Over the years, there’s one thing that I have learnt, it doesn’t matter how big or small the party, only a few people can make your birthday special.

For me those people are my family, especially my sister and my two best friends. While friends and family are central to any celebration, there is another thing that everyone looks forward to receiving on their birthday: Gifts! They can be big or small, hand-made or store bought but what makes them special is when they come from the heart. So, let me tell you about the circle of surprises that started with my best-friends birthday.

My sister prides herself on being the queen of gifts. She has been coming up with the perfect gift for her closest friends this year. So, when she asked me what I planned on giving my best friend for her birthday, I was a little embarrassed to say, “A gift card.” My response received a withering look from my sister and I was quick to add, “She can buy what she wants and it’s the thought that counts right?” To which came the snappy response, “What thought? You have put absolutely no thought into a gift for her.” After a long process of trying to come up with a brilliant git, I finally caved and asked my sister for advice, to which she replied, “Isn’t your friend turning 23? Just get her 23 gifts.” My sister beamed at me and I stared at her aghast, “How am I supposed to get 23 gifts in two days!?”

And so began the great gift hunt. I had to not only buy 23 gifts, but do so within a very strict budget. I seems miraculous but I actually pulled it off. The gifts ranged from tiny things like candles, lip gloss, chocolates to bigger things like a teddy bear, wallet and bracelet. I even turned up at her house at 12 am with homemade brownies with the message ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’. To make the birthday even more special, she was supposed to open one gift every hour and each gift had a little message attached to it. She was ecstatic to say the least! 😀

The next birthday to come up was my sisters. Of course I couldn’t ask ‘The Queen’  herself for suggestions so this time it was up to me. Since she had been making amazing gifts for her friends, they all came together and made gifts for her. We worked in secret for weeks, we made frames with the words: Dream, think and wish (since those are her favourite words) along with a quote for each word. In addition to that, since she loves keeping a personal diary we made her a personalised one, with pictures, important events and her favourite quotes. To top this off we threw her a surprise 18th birthday party with a customised cake. She was over the moon! Of course, the party wouldn’t be complete without a small video of embarrassing childhood antics, edited and made by me. 😉

Now we seem to be coming full circle, since I surprised my sister and my best friend, it was their turn to surprise me. And they did a brilliant job with messages from my closest friends who are scattered around the world, personalised bookmarks, a magic mug, a stuffed Olaf Disney toy and the best personalised frame marking the year I spent abroad. I was absolutely taken aback!

This year has truly come full circle. It has been a complete circle of good wishes and birthday surprises, and just like a circle it has no beginning and I can see no end to the love between family and friends.

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