The Best Kind of Presents
By now, all my readers surely know how spoiled I am.  Not only did I celebrate my birthday with a potluck, and a 3-day long Labor Day weekend extravaganza (part 1, part 2), when I was visiting home last week, I also had a small family celebration.
It started out with a pool party for just us crazy kids:
Then we had a yummy home-made family dinner.  My Mom made a veggie lasagna full of eggplant, organic spinach, and even a hand-full of kale!

The meal was rounded out with some yummy garlic bread and a stunning garden salad.
And yes, there was even cake and presents… but not the kind of presents that money can buy… these were even better!
My Dad, with his quirky sense of humor, bought me a cat.  But not a real cat.  It was a $1 thrift-store replica that I could bring home with me to Chicago to remind me of my dear cat Peaches that lives with my parents.  Do you see the resemblance?
But the gift that stole the show was from my Great Aunt Sue.  She is ‘great’ in so many ways.  For one, she’s my mother’s Aunt – thus officially earning the title of ‘Great Aunt’… but she is also truly a great person.  At NINETY-NINE YEARS OLD she’s still vivacious and charming.
Her social calendar is full of various game-nights and activities, and she’s a very talented painter and writer.
Several of her paintings are hanging in relatives homes, including these two in my apartment:
She’s also an active member of a writer’s group, and has taken on the daunting task of documenting hundreds of stories about our family history and all that she’s seen in her 99 years.
As a very special birthday gift she gave this poem to me:
VEGETABLE SOUP (written by my Great Aunt Sue)
I get an urge for cooking – 
Into the fridge to take a look:
Tofu and okra and some fake chicken,
Put in a pot and cook like the dickens,
          Until the mix is tender.
Put in a lot of barley,
Onions, carrots, peas and celery.
Make sure to chop them tiny.
Then some tomatoes, red and shiny – 
          Great for a cold fall day.
It smells so good,
You can hardly wait – 
To taste that delicious brew.
Throw in a big handful of noodles,
Now bring on your plate,
          And taste something great!
I’d love to hear from you:
What are some of the best gifts you’ve ever received?
What questions  would you love to ask someone who’s seen nearly 100 years?