Many happy returns, J’wyl!
“Many happy returns” is a greeting which is used by some on birthdays, and by others in response to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year .” Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used, by some, on birthdays. Prior to the mid-19th century, it was used at any celebratory or festive event. The phrase is more common in British English, Indian English and Hiberno English than in Canadian English or American English.
Current usage is often as a more formal option than ‘Happy Birthday’. It is also often found on greetings cards.
I personally first learned it from Winnie-the-Pooh, who is a silly old bear.
Today, I know a few people who have birthdays, but I especially have been thinking of my friend, Judy.
She was originally introduced to me as J’wyldragon (a chat and journal handle) by our mutual friend ZorkFox (at the time, I knew him by the handle Scirocco as well his real name).
I’d gone to help Zork with a convention. He was working security, and it was a small con, but he was a little short on assistance. Since he knew that a) I was a responsible adult, b) I knew how to use a 2-way radio (he knew I’d worked previously as a dispatcher) and c) he trusted me to be said responsible adult, he’d asked if I could help. He also mentioned that it was possible that the volunteer department head might need some help in the form of gophers. (I had experience here, too, having participated in tech theater in college. And you know, as a kid, due to my dad. But that’s another story.)
So he introduced me to Judy (head of volunteers, known as Ops) and we just … clicked.
She swears she heard an audible click in her head when we met. As if another piece of her just appeared back in the world and fit right back together. I just remember thinking, “This lady. I can be completely me around her. She is awesome. She is keeping track of the exterior chaos around her and she knows how to tug on this or that to make it all just click. And she’s keeping people happy while she does it! She also has a wicked sense of humor and I’m pretty sure I adore that.”
Sure enough, we got along wonderfully, and I even went back to the convention a couple times (it used to be an annual thing, as fan conventions often are), simply to spend time with Zork and her, and others I met.
That was in the late ’90s, and we’ve been friends ever since.
We love seeing each other when we can, even though we live over 300 miles apart. We make it a point to try to see each other every July 4th we can manage it, to go to a local art show near where I live. And I try to make it up where she is when I can, just to visit. We can go long periods without really talking, and click right back together when we get back in touch. We are able to bounce things off each other, and ask for honest feedback; whether those things are painful or ridiculously, wonderful, silly plans for gifts for mutual friends. We share a love of books, art, music, playing games with friends, cats, dragons, fairies, and pretty things. We especially bond over getting people to giggle and be happy.
I have an aversion to calling anyone a best friend, for reasons I still haven’t completely explored; but if I were to fall back into the habit, J’wyl is definitely a person who would fall into that category. I love her very much, and she is the bestest dragoness I know.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday, my dear sweet friend, and that the year which follows brings you many happy returns!