Better Than Christmas

Sunday, November 15

Without question, today is my favorite day of the year.

For over a month I’ve been planning a surprise 40th Birthday Party for my husband, Ken.  And today I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore.

It’s a small gathering (for us) – just immediate family.  Brunch for 17 at Concord’s historical Colonial Inn.

Ken (and Briggs, you can’t let the four year-old in on the plan) are genuinely surprised when we walk into a private room filled with our nearest and dearest.

And of course while it was a gift to treat my husband and our family to the most delicious brunch buffet this side of Boston, my real gift was the toast – that of course, I couldn’t get through without crying:

First – here’s to Karen and Tim’s son.

Yours was the first relationship in Kenny’s life – and the most meaningful.  It would set the tone for all others, and teach him how (almost instinctually) to be kind, open, and unconditionally protective of his entire family.

Next, here’s to your little brother.

While Tracy and Kenny never met, he would (and does) believe that she watches over him – especially during his wild years (thank, God).  And Timmy and Heidi, your collective bond would be the most important in providing Kenny a sense of eternal acceptance and connection.  You’d give him thick skin and a soft heart.  You’d teach him how to golf, be a friend, and use his “baby,” status to get away with…well…everything.

By 19, Kenny would become Billy’s brother, too.  And like any good married big brother, Billy would live vicariously through the life of single Kenny – and (much) later go on to offer strong Dad advice on everything from NICU stays to the necessary acceptance of kitchen sets.

Not too long after becoming Billy’s brother, and Marty’s adoptive son in-law, he would get the next great honor of his life:

Becoming TJ’s, and then Justin’s uncle.

You boys would be his first entree into fatherhood.  You would help him rediscover the joys of wrestling, Christmas, and dressing up in costume.  Watching you grow into fine young men continues to be one of the great privileges of his life.

And then came me.

Here’s to my husband.

Somehow we’ve always been okay going our own way – be it mortgage before marriage, serving breakfast at our wedding, or throwing a house party with no floors.  Somehow growing closer has provided us more space to become the people we strive to be.

I can’t say “thank you” or “I love you,” enough – but I can give this really long toast.

With me, came even more:

Finally, my parents get a boy!  The first married-in grandson for Grammy & Papa.  The first brother for Lindsey, Maria, and Teresa.

And of course, all of this leads to his most defining role:

Here’s to Briggs’s Dad.

Kenny, you are an exceptional father – devoted and committed to our son the way your Dad is to you – the way Billy and his Dad are to each other and to TJ & Justin – Briggs may have grown inside of me, but ever since the doctors said, “Baby Goodwin coming out,” you and Briggs have been soundly connected by something forever indestructible.

Which brings me to today – when approaching 40, Kenny now has found another brother in Lukasz (and finally completed the brothers foursome!) – and again is blessed with the pure fun and joy of being Roman’s uncle, and happily awaiting the arrival of the next nephew (or maybe even a niece!) to fall in love with him all over again.

So, Kenny, here’s to you:

The son.  The brother.  The uncle.  The husband.  The father…the man we are all so honored and happy to have in our lives.

Happy 40th!  To Kenny.


Kenny held my hand through the entire speech.  He laughed at the parts that I hoped would make him smile, and cried with me at the parts I knew would resonate the most.

This is what I think those “honor” vows are actually about.  Taking the time – providing the space – to truly honor the one you feel most deeply connected to, and acknowledging all of the ways in which he brings so much light and love to…well…everything.

(PS – Group photos are tough – but still wonderful)






2 thoughts on “Better Than Christmas

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