My friend and I sat in the almost-empty restaurant catching up on personal news over a late dinner. We talked about our grown children (conversations about kids happens at all ages), upcoming special events, and the little details that make up a life. We met in part to celebrate my birthday which we mentioned a few times during the course of the evening. When it was time to order dessert, we declined. That is, until the waiter mentioned that he overheard us talking about a birthday and explained to us that a free dessert was offered to anyone celebrating a birthday. Of course we quickly changed our minds and decided to indulge.
Last week Kate Messner posted tips from seven authors for the National Day of Writing. Kate’s tip was about finding the small details in a scene – something that brings the writing back to the personal. That’s what happened that night in the restaurant. The waiter found the small detail, a birthday celebration, in the bits of conversation he overheard. His attention to detail turned what might have been an ordinary dinner between friends into a true celebration.
The baked salted caramel cookie topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream was delicious. It even came with a candle – another small detail that shouldn’t be missed when celebrating a birthday.
As writers and teachers and citizens, it is important to attend to the stories held in the small details of life.