I used to live in Italy. Growing up an Air Force brat, I moved around frequently and, with parents who both spoke fluent Italian, it was inevitable that we'd be stationed there at least a couple of times. While I was in graduate school, they had the gall to move back to Italy without me. Fortunately, DH and I got to visit them several summers in a row. As I have a late summer birthday, we generally managed to be there for it. I have so many sun-drenched birthday memories. Memories filled with sea salt, Aranciata, marble floors, and happiness.
One of the things I've always loved about my family is that we do birthdays well. Wherever we happened to land on my birthday over the years, my dad always managed to finagle a birthday cake. These cakes came in all manner of flavors, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes they were smushy affairs made of yogurt and jam, sometimes they had messages spelled out in a hilarious mixture of languages, always they were heartfelt and delicious.
I've been told more than once that I'm difficult to buy presents for. Part of this may be that I love books more than just about anything and it's intimidating for other people to buy them for me as they're never sure exactly what I've already read, what I have and haven't heard about yet, etc. This doesn't stop my husband though. One particular summer in Italy DH surprised me and pulled out all the stops.
On my birthday he handed me a folded letter. As it technically qualifies as a love letter, I'll just extract a few pertinent snippets:
I hope that somewhere in this collection of books by one of your favorite authors is the perfect gift. If not I hope it's close. We have many years, and I will get it right eventually. Most of all I hope you know I love you more than music and laughter, for you are both these things to me.
As far as I can tell I have found all of the Mary Stewart novels for you. Many of these I know you already own and I found more than one interesting copy of most of them so you'll have a very redundant collection. However, there are, I believe, seven 1st editions in the group and at least four 1st edition paperbacks. I found a couple signed copies, but they were simply beyond our meager budget...someday. In total you will be receiving 36 books in the mail over the next several weeks. Two of these are coming from Wales and Scotland and will take some time, the rest from the U.S. and Canada should be quicker. You'll have to make sure to check the mail every day as I don't think our little mailbox will be able to handle the volume.
Happy Birthday and all my love with these simple gifts.
There's really not much for me to add except to say that it was the loveliest birthday present this bibliophile ever got and that I'm awfully fond of that man.