Jeff Benedict: My birthday reminded me to enjoy simple things

Published: Tuesday, April 2 2013 3:45 p.m. MDT

Around 1:30 I had an urge for chocolate. I figured I'd run to buy a candy bar. But as I reached my office door my son Tennyson drove up. He handed me a plastic container. Inside I found a note: "Dear Jeff, Happy birthday! Here are the last of my Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I hope you enjoy & they help you get through all your work."

It was from my wife Lydia. I fell in love with her in 1988. So I turned to my laptop, minimized my manuscript, went to YouTube, and selected one of my favorite songs from that year — Def Leppard's "Hysteria."

Then I slowly enjoyed her peanut butter cups while I listened and remembered.

Then back to work.

By late afternoon my partner Armen Keteyian and I had finished writing. As we emailed our manuscript to our editor in New York, I took stock in how lucky I am to work with one of my best friends.

I hustled home for my birthday party. My presents were on the dining room table, neatly wrapped. One of my gifts was nostalgia – the complete box set of "M*A*S*H," all 251 episodes from the debut on Sept. 17, 1972, to the final show on Feb. 28, 1983. More than 125 million viewers tuned in to the show's finale, making it the most-watched television episode in U.S. history. I was 16 then and my eyes welled up when Hawkeye had a nervous breakdown.

After my kids went to bed, I wanted to escape to England before my birthday came to a close. My wife and I snuck off to the TV room and watched "Downton Abbey."

It's the simple things that make life rich.

Jeff Benedict is a special features contributor for Sports Illustrated and the author of 11 books. His website is www.jeffbenedict.com.

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