The Roundup -

Birthdays Rock


I celebrate another birthday soon, and I expect an onslaught of cards pointing out and gently poking fun at my advanced number of years. I look forward to all my cards, whether they remind me that I am well-seasoned in years, or whether they just remind me that someone has thought of me today and wishes me well. Birthdays should remind one that indeed, today we are kings or queens for the day.

Last year one of the cards I received read "Birthdays are like Outhouses: Not exactly pleasant but we'd be in deep doo-doo without them." I still scratch my head over that one. I LIKE birthdays. I look forward to a special day where more than likely someone else cooks a nice dinner for me, I may get a few presents, co-workers use the event as an excuse to bring treats to work, and I generally receive lots of cards in the mail. I anticipate the thought of chatting with siblings on the phone, and in truth, I rather like the attention birthdays provide. After all, it isn't every day that others do something a little out of the ordinary in honor of the fact that I exist.

I don't particularly like the thought that I'm officially one year older, and I have trouble accepting just how many birthdays have come and gone already, but that doesn't prevent me from enjoying them. I don't feel like a 60 something old woman, but then again, how do I know what a 60 something person ought to feel like? I feel just fine, not at all old and worn out.

When I was a child, I figured a person had some age on them when they reached the horrifying age of forty-five, they were ancient relics at fifty, and tottering on their last legs at sixty. Fortunately, now that I've passed that sixtieth milestone by several years, I can happily report to youngsters that no, we are not decrepit old fossils at sixty plus and that we still have plenty of spark left despite the wrinkles and grey hair. As another birthday card I received advised me, 'Inside every old person is a young person wondering what the heck happened." I can vouch for that one. I still think of me as young, believe it or not. It does make me sit up and take notice, however, when a character in a book worries about her "old" mother who has reached the astonishing age of 65. Instead I cheer when the heroine has some age on her and still more than holds her own against the world.

I am surprised at the number of people who seem to think birthdays are something to dread. Why? Sure, we're officially another year older, but if you think about it, every day we are a year older than this day a year ago. Dreading a birthday is like dreading Memorial Day because each Memorial Day comes a year after the one we celebrated last. I don't know anyone who dislikes Memorial Day, or the 4th of July, or Thanksgiving, unless of course unwanted relatives plan to show up looking for free turkey and all the trimmings. Any annual holiday that we generally look forward to reminds us that one more year has come and gone, but that doesn't diminish our pleasure in the day itself.

We need to handle birthdays the same way. It's our special day, an occasion to celebrate ourselves in the company of people we care about. Pish posh if we're another year older. So what? If we live long enough, we all get old. Celebrate that fact. Revel in all we have done, what we have accomplished, what we have discovered from the inevitable mistakes we all make, and look back on a life well-lived. Enjoy the day, eat cake and ice cream with gusto, and indulge in favorite treats. Why not?

I enjoy stretching the special day out into several days, which becomes possible when cards start dribbling in a week or so before the actual day. I may have lunch with a few friends somewhere around the actual birth date, we celebrate at work on or around the date, and my sister prepares me a birthday dinner even if we don't get together until a month or so before or after the fact. Who cares? This allows me to spin out the celebration, and enjoy my special day twice or three or four times over the course of a few weeks. Who could ask for more?

Birthdays let us reflect on our lives and recall fond memories of other birthday celebrations. Our special day also allows us to realize how we have grown and changed through the years. Remember, as one of my birthday cards reminded me, "Before you can be old and wise you first had to be young and foolish." I passed the young part a long time ago. The foolish part may be with me still, but I am old and somewhat wiser than I may have been three decades ago. At least I've matured, I've led a unique life that no one else has experienced in the same way I have, and I deserve to celebrate that fact with great glee. I earned these gray hairs, and as Will Rogers once said, "I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved."

If the fact of your birthday continues to bother you because you don't like the thought of aging, just pick a favorite age and stick with it, but for goodness sake enjoy your special day and milk it for all it's worth. After all, it only comes once a year.


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