Katy Kat is 21 today. According to my family tree, she is my cousin. According to my heart, she is so much more. She has parents, so it’s not my job to be her mother. I get the better job of big sister/ aunt/ mentor/ friend. I hope I’ve taught her some things worth knowing, or at least, there are some things (and people) worth knowing. Her life hasn’t always been lollipops and sunshine. She’s known more than her fair share of darkness. But she’s lucky in the way few people are in this life: she has a cheering section worthy of a professional sports team.
If it really does take a village to raise a child, then Katy Kat’s tribe is mostly smart, sassy women. For her birthday, they were enlisted to help contribute to her gift: 21 Things for Your 21st Birthday.
Each woman was asked the question: What one thing should no woman be without? The answer was totally open. It could be practical, funny, spiritual, emotional, anything. Tell me what every woman needs and I would assemble them in a basket to give her on her birthday.
Collecting the items was an insight into the women who have shaped her. Some knew instantly what the answer should be and responded immediately. Some worked it over in their head for months. Some insisted on getting the item themselves because they had a very specific requirement for what she should get. Others threw out a vague notion or quote they liked and left the presentation totally to me. One answered within 15 minutes of my first inquiry back in February. One sent me her item yesterday morning. Some sent me a list of things. Every single one came from a place of great love for an amazing girl.
21 (actually 25 because I overasked and got more responses than expected) Things for Your 21st Birthday:
- Jennifer Shannon Grease – Life isn’t complete if you haven’t sung Summer Loving’, Hopelessly Devoted to You, and You’re the One that I Want at the top of your lungs!!!
- Katie McManners Tampon – Always keep it with you. Cause you never know when…
- Paige Thurmond Personalized Stationery – In the blog, tweet, Facebook, text message, microwave, fast food world we all thrive in, never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. To say hello. Or thank you, perhaps for a gift. Or for a friendship. Treasure the simplicity and the link to the past. Cherish the permanence of pen and paper.
- Tami Bean Grace – When a woman lives with the realization that God not only LOVES her, but has FORGIVEN her and that she can/should LOVE the BEAUTIFUL woman HE has created her to be me, she’ll exude JOY and GRACE. Her continence will RADIATE!!!
- Melissa Jackson Good Kitchen Knife – You will use it every day and it will last the rest of your life.
- Audreya Parks Ability to Eat Out Alone – There will come a time on a business trip or when all your friends have plans or so forth that the Taco Bell drive-thru won’t hit the spot. If, from time to time, you can sit in a restaurant at a table for one and feel okay about it, you can do anything!
- Meggan Spicer Fun Wine Glass – At the end of a hard day, wine out of a fun glass makes it a bit more bearable.
- Becca Buerkle Skillet/ Frying Pan – It is the basic kitchen tool (beyond a good wooden spoon) you can make sandwiches, sauces or sauté.
- Savannah Butler Journal – Even if you don’t use it for writing, it helps to have a place for notes, quotes, names and numbers, ideas and lists.
- Jill Hartsfield Daily Planner – Being a grown up woman is a juggling act in the center stage of a three-ring circus blindfolded. I like keeping “to do” lists and being able to check things off. I also like to lunch with my friends. Having a planner enables me to do both of those with fabulous efficiency. It also helps me to remember where I am supposed to pick my kids up.
- Jamie Thomas Financial Peace Revisited by: Dave Ramsey – This is book has practical Christian advise about finances. Terry and I took this class at church and it has a lot of helpful information on topics from everyday life and budgets and long term planning and investments.
- Cathy Koffler Prison to Praise By: Merlin Carothers – This book helped me so much during hard times.
- Julie Decker Chocolate – No woman should be without chocolate. Preferably dark chocolate for the antioxidants benefit. A good piece of chocolate can turn a bad day around in an instant. I can remember many a heartache that chocolate helped me through.
- Amy Bradley-Hole Yoga Mat – Every woman should have a workout and health regimen.
- Rev. Harriett Akins-Banman Warm Blanket for Time Alone – Quiet, beautiful, no stress or pressure time allows you to truly rest and care for yourself—what this brings to mind for me is my favorite blanket that is warm with years of memories, its soft and comfy and when I wrap it around myself, I am in that peaceful kind of take care of self place.
- Angie Johnson Caffeine – I am pretty certain I cannot live without caffeine!!!!!! Whether it’s a diet coke, coffee from Starbucks, homemade ice tea, there is not a day that passes that I do not have my fair share (ok so probably enough for myself and 3 others) of caffeine.
- Amy Simpkins A Room of One’s Own By: Virginia Wolf – It is quietly reflective of what it takes to gain independence, both in thought and in society. More than simply being instructive, as a young modern woman, it is important to be reminded of how far we women have come in society. Not too very long ago, we had nothing, not even one room, that we could call our own.
- Kathy Kostopolus Traveling Prayer – This is a safe-travels prayer that I keep in my car at all times.
- Misty Fox Confidence To Wait for What You Want – I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it. ~Audrey Hepburn
- Melissa Wolfe Travel – My best friend and I were living in Dallas after college when we both lost our jobs. She took a job as a nanny in Paris and went to live there for 6 months. I took part of my severance pay from Arthur Anderson and went to Paris to visit her for a week. Both of us had visited Paris before, but it was definitely an experience that I will not forget – just the two of us in a city we were not familiar with.
- Amy Palmer Bible – Someone special gave me this version of the Bible in my early twenties and it has seen me through some the best and worst times. It is easy to read and easy to stash in your backpack, car, purse, wherever. Keep it close so you will have it with you when you need it. Psalm 119: 105 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
- Kerri Case Friends – Surround yourself with strong, confident, smart, funny women. They will remind you to laugh at yourself. They will hold your hands when you cry. They will pray for you. They will go to the store to prevent you from wearing backup makeup in public on purpose. They will call you out when you are being a moron. They will allow you moments of ugliness, but never cruelty. They will keep you between the ditches.
- Sarabeth Jones Traveling Mercies By: Anne Lamott – Anne Lamott’s stories remind me every woman should have the ability to laugh at herself & the absurdity of the world around her, keen realization that joy & pain walk hand in hand, hunger to find meaning and beauty, willingness to love, & God, who is in and around and through all of these things, who is big enough for you, who will never let you go.
- Jill Penick Hand Sanitizer – I am a hugger and hand-holder (not to mention mother of two very dirty boys), so it is the only way to go. Believe me, you’ll appreciate this stuff!
- Cathleen McFarlin Tool Kit – A woman should not have to rely on men for simple repairs, but she should also know when to ask for help- it’s a hard lesson to learn.
- Good Mascara
- Lip Gloss
- Good Graces (either because of or Despite her raising)
- Back up Flip-Flops
- Go-To heels
- Signature meal
- Take out menu Collection
- Jumper Cables
- Conservative Black Suit
- Guilty TV Pleasure
- Credit in your own name
- Fire extinguisher
- Good Moisturizer
I cannot thank the women who participated in this project enough. You were generous with your time and hearts in both this gift to Katy Kat and also in her life. You are fabulous beyond words.