Birthday Reflections

Funny how certain days cause us to look back and reflect on those same certain days throughout the past years. How things and circumstances around us have changed; how people have changed. And yes, how we’ve changed, and how our outlook on life has changed as well.

Birthdays when we were children were certainly different than they are for us as adults today. It’s funny, but I don’t remember having birthday parties when I was growing up. Sure we celebrated, but it was always with our family members. I don’t even have a lot of pictures from those celebrations.

In fact, the only birthday party for myself that I remember was my Sweet Sixteen. Most of us girls had them, of course. It was a rite of passage. But sadly I don’t remember finding any party pictures when I cleaned out my mom’s house. I guess since the cameras all used film that had to be developed, it was a bit expensive, so photos weren’t taken all that much.

I do remember my 21st birthday, and yes, that was a big deal for all of us that year. I was in school in North Carolina, and in a “dry” county, so we had to go to Charlotte to celebrate so I could have the traditional first legal drink of alcohol. Of course, restaurants there weren’t allowed to serve cocktails, so we had to “brown bag” it. We sure felt like real adults then!

Yes, times have changed!

I remember the year I turned 25, and said something about it to the receptionist at the TV station where I was working at the time. She had just turned 18, and I remember her comment as if it were today. “Twenty-five!?? That’s OLD!” And she meant it quite seriously. Let’s see? She’d be turning 60 this year. Wonder how she’s feeling…?

I do remember my thirtieth birthday and how old I felt. No longer in my twenties, and at the time, feeling life was passing me by, and quickly. Divorced, no one in my life, and wondering if I’d ever get where I wanted to be. And I wasn’t sure where that even was!

Ten years later, what a difference! A loving husband, a two year old daughter, and my life was finally where it should be. But the idea of turning the big 4-0 hit me differently than I expected. My husband took me away for a weekend, and surprised me with 40 balloons when we got to our hotel room. Yes, I do have a picture somewhere, but it’s not getting posted. He treated me to a great dinner, and we had a wonderful weekend, but still…I was FORTY!!! That just sounded old. And for a while I FELT old.

Fast forward ten years later…my husband and I both turned fifty, him a month earlier than me. For months he’d been dreading turning “half a century” old. Every time I mentioned his birthday, he didn’t want to hear about it. So being the nice person I am, I woke him up at one minute after his birthday started and wished him a happy birthday, and reminded him he was half a century old. I had decorated his office with all the traditional “over the hill” decorations, and even gave him a surprise party two weeks later, complete with a “This is Your Life” book I had worked on for months.

Turning fifty didn’t bother me though. I guess I’d finally gotten to the point that we can’t stop time, and really, would we WANT to? The older we get, the more mellow I think we become. And no, he didn’t do a party and such for my 50th. But he made up for it on my 51st with a limo ride and a dinner cruise with four of my girl friends!

Another ten years and we turned 60. That actually didn’t bother me either, although once again, it seemed to bother Ben just a bit. A friend gave me the idea of giving him sixty gifts, each with items relating to 60, like 60 pennies, 60 watt light bulbs (for when he had a bright idea), 60 keys (for when he lost his), etc. and each gift with a reason for giving them. Took him almost two hours to open them all! For my 60th, it was once again low key, nice dinner with friends and family. And I actually was happy being 60. After all, I’d reached the point of “what you see is what you get”, and if you didn’t like it, too bad. I am who I am.

Yes, you may have figured out by now today is my birthday. I’m 67. Sounds like an odd number to me. But you know, it’s not a bad age. I’m still in the mindset of “I am who I am” and I’m not changing for anyone. Most people say I don’t look my age, and that makes me feel good. In fact, I actually think I’m going to like being 67.

But please allow me to say I’m also somewhat nostalgic at the differences in birthday celebrations then and now. I look at the various people who have been in and out of my life over the years, and I miss them. Some have passed away, while others have just dropped out of our life, many for reasons unknown. Others have taken their place, and I welcome them for the next part of my journey.

To my loving husband Ben, our wonderful daughter and son-in-law, and our most precious granddaughter, thank you for loving me, and for being a part of many more birthdays to come. And to my dear friends who are once again joining me for another year’s celebration, thank you! And even the flamingos joined the celebration and got me a cake!

Each birthday is another treasure to be opened. It brings another year of joys and promises, surprises and delights. And I can’t wait to see what treasures will be opened today for the future.

And yes, I’m only three years away from that milestone 70th birthday! That may take on a whole new meaning…..

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