Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Birthday Gifts

You may know that I turned 50 this summer, in Europe. I awoke in Switzerland, went to bed in Italy, and in between, enjoyed the day as I travelled through the mountains with my guys.

We saw many beautiful sights during the course of our drive that day from the Berner Oberland to Lake Como; for 17 kilometers, we saw almost nothing at all, because we were in a tunnel. Being slightly claustrophobic, that tunnel was NOT my favorite part of the day. But this, too, passed.

The trip with Gregg and David was itself enough of a "gift" for me. But some extra special things came with my 50th birthday.

When we arrived at our little hotel in Loveno, we got settled in our rooms, and then walked through the old fortifications into town to find a good place in which to eat dinner.
We chose the Osteria Il Pozzo, where the food was so good that we went back again, two nights later.

After dinner, we stopped at a gelato shop and each of us got a cone, walked through the town square, and back up to our hotel. We got used to saying "Bueno Sera" to the locals who we passed each evening, as we made our way up the hill.

On the night of my birthday, while we were getting ready for bed, we heard loud noises outside of the hotel. Looking out of our window,
we were greeted by this sight.
I turned to Gregg and said, "Honey, you called ahead and ordered this for me? Thank you; you're so thoughtful!" He smiled and said something like, "Sure, I did."
What a great coincidence for us, that the Italians were celebrating something on June 26th. Grazie, bella Italia!

My parents are very kind and thoughtful, too. Before we left home, they gave each of us some spending money. We all enjoyed browsing during our travels.
Gregg bought ONE THING for himself:  a hat. Typical of him.
David bought many things, mainly t-shirts that showed where he had been.

I spent a little of my money here and there, especially in the street markets of France. I bought a beautiful dress, a pashmina, a cute skirt and top in the south of France, and three tops (on sale) in Paris, in a shop on the Champs-Elysees. I bought my favorite perfume & some lotion (on the Riviera, at Fragonard), and some gifts for others. I was more than happy.

Before we left Paris, David wanted to see some of the great couture boutiques. I was happy to go to those stores and see the beautifully made clothes. We spent some hours browsing, discussing the great quality and style of the items in the windows, but only going inside a few of the stores. We saw Brioni, Gucci, Chanel, Tod's, and many others. We went into the flagship Hermes store, where I showed Gregg & David the custom-made saddles and the most beautiful scarves in the world...and then, David found the place he had been seeking all along:  Loro Piana, the great Italian clothier, which specializes in cashmere. We had told David many times that it was out of his budget, but he wanted to see it for himself, so we went inside. The most handsome man we had encountered in three weeks of travel (I wish I had a photo to illustrate!) assisted David as he looked at the scarves, sweaters and shirts.

What do you think happened next? David found the SALE RACK! Yes, even Loro Piana has markdowns, my friends. And David found a sweater there, that fit as if it had been tailor-made for him. He tried it on, fell in love and bought it from the best-looking and most courteous salesman in all of western Europe, who treated David as if he were a millionaire. The sweater was wrapped in a gift box, with two cedar balls (to prevent moth damage), and placed in a beautiful gift bag with a catalog. David was very, very happy with his Paris shopping experience. We started to walk back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

David stopped me on the street corner. "Just a minute," he said. "Why didn't you get a scarf at Hermes?" I told him it was too expensive, that I had inherited a couple of them from my grandmother, and that those were enough. "It's your 50th birthday; you have birthday money. How long has it been since you've been in Paris?" I told him it had been a little over 30 years. "How long since you've been in Europe?" Ten years. "When do you think you'll be back here?" I didn't know. "I think you should go back and get a scarf at Hermes."
So  I did. They are all so beautiful that it wasn't easy to choose which one to buy. Here it is:
Thanks, Mom & Dad, for the beautiful gift! Thank you, David, for encouraging me! I wouldn't have done it without you.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh Hermes! How lovely Karen! What a beautiful reminder of your fairy tale trip :) I bet David looks fantastic in his cashmere :)

Karen and Joe said...

I love that lovely post...ahh, life can be beautiful too, even if the midst of great tragedy. We made the reverse trip from Lake Como to the Berner Oberland, so I could picture it! But really, fireworks on your birthday?! So kind of the Italians. And your son wins the Best Son award. So solicitous with his precious mom. And an Hermes scarf that looks just smashing on you. You are so beautiful, and your daughter looks exactly like you. Thanks for sharing that beautiful moment and letting us walk along.

Karen and Joe said...

Oh, and by the way, you do NOT look 50!

Karla said...

Sounds and looks wonderful! You've got a couple great guys there. :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a birthday for you my sweet friend!!!! I love that David already knows when to splurge and when to hold back and even encouraging his dear Mother!!!
I am glad you listened to him also. I also love that your parents still give you guys spending money, that is so darn sweet!!!

Hello? You make 50 look SO good too.

Hugs, Suz

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

Sweet memories, and such a special time with your husband and sweet son. I know that must have been the biggest gift of all. I am so glad to hear of your "adventures"...thanks for "taking us along".

Have a Happy Day1

~ ps ~ that photo of you in the dress on the balcony is so beautiful! said...

Gorgeous choice! I do so love your color sense...

Kay said...

Love it! Sounds like an amazing trip! So glad you went... and found a sale rack to boot. That is the funniest part! :-D

ChiTown Girl said...

What a sweet boy you raised there!!! Happy (belated) 50th Birthday!!!! I wish I looked that good when I turned 40!

Anonymous said...

Karen, I am so disappointed you don't have a picture of the good-looking clerk! Ha! I once walked into a store here in town, and the three clerks stood frozen, with their mouths open. One looked at the other and said, "He has got to be the most gorgeous man I've ever seen." They all nodded in agreement - and shoot! I missed him! He had walked out of the store through the opposite door I entered. I looked out the door and he was already turning the corner. I still wonder HOW good looking a man must be to stop women in their tracks!

The scarf looks beautiful - ! Of course, so does the model. Is David going to wear his sweater for his senior pictures? L =]