My mom turns 76 today and what a year it has been. Not only during COVID but my mom has been through some crazy things this year too. As I look back on the year, it all started with a surprise drive-by parade and we had no idea if or when we would be able to celebrate again.

Last year, we wanted to make my mom's birthday special because she was hitting a milestone. She turned 75. With all of the restrictions with COVID, we couldn't all be together so we planned a special surprise birthday drive-by parade. Fifty cars met in the Mechanicville Elks parking lot and on that beautiful sunny Sunday, May 3rd, we brought my mom to tears. It was such a perfect way to celebrate. She had no idea.

We also thought that we would never be able to gather together without masks and hug each other. I have to admit that I did sneak in a hug or two during that drive-by. It was truly special.

Now fast forward to my mom's 76th birthday today. We wanted to celebrate with her over the weekend and we were so happy that we could take her out to dinner. My mom picked the Cheesecake Factory and we were on our way. It was so nice to be able to get together and have dinner at a restaurant. We took that for granted before the pandemic. We were able to have the wait staff sing "Happy Birthday" to my mom too. I know that sounds silly, but it was so awesome to hear that again as the whole restaurant joined in and clapped. But the highlight of the night was that Ryan, our son, was able to hug my mom and wish her a happy birthday.

I am grateful that we are back to a semi-normal but I have to admit that this pandemic has made me appreciate my family more. My mom has always been the center of our world but it's awesome that we can celebrate her again. I just watched the video of the drive-by birthday parade from last year and I have to say, it was an amazing celebration and my mom is loved by so many.

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