The anchor will turn 56 on Sunday

By Aurelie Corinthios
August 07, 2020 01:32 PM
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Happy early birthday, Hoda Kotb!

Ahead of the Today show anchor's 56th birthday on Sunday, her colleagues at the NBC morning show took a moment to mark the occasion on Friday.

After surprising her with a crown to wear, her fourth hour co-host Jenna Bush Hager reflected on Kotb's big year, which included getting engaged to longtime boyfriend Joel Schiffman and the addition of daughter Hope, 1, to their family. Hope joined big sister Haley, 3.

"It's been a long year, but think about what has happened since you were 55," said Bush Hager, 38. "You got engaged, we've gone through a global pandemic — there's been a lot."

"I mean, there's been so much that's been unpredictable," Kotb said. "Joel and I got engaged this year, within this last year we had Hope step in our lives, and we have Haley. I just believe if you wonder and you're wondering about your time in life, some people get their blessings in their 20s, and some people get theirs in their 30s and 40s. And some people wait until their 50s, maybe even their 60s, or even beyond. But when they come, they come. And there's something about getting them later, because you can't believe it.  And that's kind of how I feel."

"I'm happy for every birthday," she added. "I'm so happy I get this birthday with these kids."

The celebrations continued with Today show staff members from across the country virtually toasting to Kotb's special day, as well as touching video messages from NBC News special anchor Maria Shriver and Kotb's daughter Haley. And when Bush read from a list of 56 reasons the staff loves Kotb, both co-hosts got choked up.

Credit: HodaandJenna/Twitter

"You're always so authentic, you have a hug, a smile, or words of wisdom, you're the same on-air as off-air, you have a heart of gold. You appreciate the entire Hoda and Jenna team and crew. You inspire those around us," Bush Hager said. "Those are all things that I feel, too. You make coming to work such a pleasure. Happy birthday!"

"That meant the world," Kotb said. "Thank you guys for even remembering. I love y'all, too."