Grandma Celebrates 65th Birthday by Giving to Others


How do you celebrate a milestone birthday if you’re not a big party person? Frances, a GaGa Sisterhood member, inspired me when she shared the story of how she celebrated her 65th birthday last December.

Frances admits that as her “Medicare” birthday approached, she wanted to ward off depression, but a big party was not her style. Yet she wanted to reach out to her friends and family and share her gratitude for arriving at this milestone.

She wrote to 50 of her friends with a unique offer. In her letter she explained that she would donate $65 to a person or organization that deserved a little surprise at the end of the year. Her family and friends got to decide on their recipients. All Frances asked was that they send her the name of the person or organization and one sentence about why they chose their recipient.

Then she sent checks back to her family and friends made out to the deserving person or organization so her family and friends could deliver Frances’ check to the recipients.

She asked them to explain that the gift was from an awesome friend/family member who wanted to share her 65th birthday with deserving people around the Bay Area. Frances requested that they deliver it by December 31 and then send her a note about the experience.

The recipients  ranged from unemployed, depressed friends and dedicated first grade teachers to Nicaraguan libraries, food banks, camps for kids with cancer, PFLAG, the Threshold Choir, and The Art of Yoga Project.

At the end of the project, Frances said the response to her birthday giveaway was ” heartwarming, amazing, inspiring, and just plain fun!” She sent an email to all her family and friends listing the people and different organizations who benefited, along with the following note:

Thanks to all of you, I had the most wonderful birthday of my life! I spent the entire month of December writing checks and receiving the most amazing thank you letters from the recipients of my $65 checks that you had the fun and privilege of distributing. Many of you delivered your checks personally and some of you even sent pictures of the presentation. It truly has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Frances, who happens to be a petite person, signs all her emails with this quote:

If you think you are too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.

Congratulations, Frances—for living your life so effectively.


  1. says

    Fantastic story! I may just have to borrow Frances’ idea for my 65th. What if the idea spreads! Just think of the good that could be done.