Thank You, Sandra Boynton!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I originally wrote and posted the following blog post on May 18, 2016 on my Blogger Blog (remember that platform!). I am reposting it today, May 18, 2023. It's still my dad's birthday, but it's the first one he's not here to celebrate with us. I still love this story, but the picture of him with his mug absolutely shattered me today. I know he'd want me to remember the good times, so please read this throwback post and know what a good day this was.
May 18, 2016
The year was 1991.
(Please give me a moment while I sob uncontrollably that 1991 was 25 years ago. Holy crap, where did that go?).
I was a freshman in high school with a big perm and a crush on a Sophomore. I was on a field trip to Boston with Math Club. We were in Quincy Market when I decided that I should probably get a birthday card for my dad, seeing as how it was his birthday and all. I'd already bought myself a Goofy watch at the Disney store. I remember going up to a small booth and spinning the rack of cards around. Then I saw it. The birthday card for my dad. This is what it looked like:
The card was a big hit. Like a really big hit. So much so that the next year, on that same trip to Boston, I found the same vendor in Quincy Market and bought another version of that birthday card. Best birthday card ever.
Fast forward a dozen or so years, and I had my first child. My friend Amy gave me some board books for my shower. Included in that was The Going to Bed Book. As my son grew, he loved to be read to, and that was one of his favorites. I can still recite it. "The sun has set, not long ago, and everybody goes below. To take a bath in one big tub, with soap all over, scrub scrub scrub."
Based on the awesomeness of that book, we slowly expanded my son's library to include many, many Sandra Boynton books. My dad was my son's primary babysitter when I worked. They've had a special bond since my son's birth. He spent just at much time reading these books to my son as I did. His favorite was Hippos Go Berserk.
We also had one of the Sandra Boynton CD's (Philadelphia Chickens). It was set as a Broadway musical, which really struck a chord with our family. I still have trouble driving through farmland without this song running through my head.
But as children do, my son (and then my daughter) aged past their Boynton phases, though my dad and I have always held her close to our hearts, mostly for the memories with the kids. When we learned that our favorite children's author was also the author of the best birthday card ever, it was like for a moment, the world was perfect.
Fast forward another dozen years. This past year has been difficult for my dad, and this birthday was not guaranteed. So, what I really wanted was to find the Hippo Birdie card. Even 25 years later, everyone in our family remembers it. I had to find this card.
I follow Sandra Boynton on Facebook, and often share her drawings, especially on my author page. I decided to reach out to her to see if there was any way to get a personalized card or something special for my dad. I mean, she has to have a store, right? Does she sell autographed things?
Instead of being directed to her store, Sandra's daughter Darcy reached out to me and offered to send something for my dad for his birthday. I was floored, and then even more so when I received it in the mail. I cried.
How this woman (and her daughter who handles this sort of thing) could be so kind and generous to me--it just blew my mind. She had already impacted our lives in such great ways, and then here she was, doing it again. I've waited weeks for this day to come. My dad's 70th birthday.
I brought down the presents to him. Upon initiating opening the card, without even knowing what the card was, my dad started singing, "Hippo birdie two ewe."
I told you, this card had an impact.
And then when he realized that it was his card. And his new birthday mug.
Then to his personalized book. He kept asking me, "How did you do this? Did you send away for it? Do you know her? How did you do this?"
There's not much my dad needs in life right now, other than quality time with loved ones. Spending time with us makes him happy (I hope). Having some mementos of some of the greatest years of our lives--when the kids were little--is the cake. Having it personalized by someone who played an integral part in shaping it is the best icing ever. Chocolate, in case you're wondering.
And Sandra Boynton does have a place to buy this card (and other things too). You can click here to get the best birthday card ever.
Thanks, Dad for everything, and happy birthday.
And thank you Sandra Boynton for yet again touching our lives.