So I had a birthday last month. When I was a child I always wanted my birthday to be a big deal. I mean HUGE, as in a party complete with balloons, magicians, lots of cake and let’s not forget the presents. I wanted to be made to feel like a princess all day long, with all my underlings at my beck and call. Unfortunately for me, that was not my family’s way of doing things and I often ended my birthday slightly disappointed. I also had the idea that strangers should be able to look at me and see a birthday aura around me and KNOW that it was my special day, but alas, that never happened either.
Once I grew up (sort of) I set about making my own birthday a special occasion. I married a man who happily joined me in that effort and still to this day tries to surprise me on my big day. I am not easily surprised, however, since I am a skeptic by nature and I don’t miss much. But I love that he tries.
And now that I have reached (and crossed, kicking and screaming) the half-century mark I find that I really don’t want too much fuss. After all, I’ve done this 51 times now.
I thought about writing a birthday post about 51 things I’ve learned, or some strange facts about me, and it just didn’t feel right. So instead here are 5 + 1 things I love about being this age.
- I’m not afraid to be myself. I’m either too mature or too lazy to care what other people think and it’s so freeing. You like me or you don’t, but I find that I don’t try very hard to win the approval of others. I am who I am, as Popeye says, and since everyone else is taken, I’ll just stick with me. I’m not mean or rude about it (I hope!), but I like this person I’ve become. And if you don’t know who Popeye is I’m not sure we can be friends.
- I am no longer a slave to fashion trends. If I like it, it feels comfortable (that’s a big deal to me now) and it looks good on me, I tend to wear it. I don’t feel like I have to have a certain brand of clothing to be “cool”. Who cares if other people think I’m cool? I’ve lived long enough to see a number of things cycle in and out of the “cool” zone and I am not interested in running that race any more. What’s cool today will be uncool tomorrow anyway. Need I remind you guys about bell bottoms? Hammer pants? 80s hair? ‘Nough said.
- I get to tell my children stories about how things were when I was their ages. You know, back when the only phone we had was attached to the wall and had a cord on it. And you had to dial each number and wait for the dial to come back before you dialed the next one. There was no internet, and only three channels on the TV and you had to get up from the couch to change them. When I was in high school we got cable TV, and MTV played music videos. And we did this thing called “play” in a place called “outside”. Oh yeah. Good times. In the summers I went out to play after breakfast, came home long enough to eat lunch then went back out, and went home for the day when my mother stood on the porch and yelled for me to come home for dinner.
- Watching old movies or television shows is like visiting old friends. Hi there, Little House on the Prairie! Good to see you, Back to the Future! Welcome back, Brady Bunch! How’s it going, Barney Miller? And all that old technology (if you can call it that) you see in those shows? I remember most of it. It’s a big ol’ nostalgia fest! And then I bore my children with stories about the “old days”. See #3.
- I’m beginning to understand why my Grandma is the way she is. This may be because I find myself acting more and more like her every day. In fact, sometimes when I look in the mirror I catch myself wondering why my Grandma Wanda is in there looking back at me. It’s a little creepy, to be honest. And some of the things I hear myself say have come straight out of her mouth before. But I love my Grandma and overall I don’t mind being more like her. She’s a wise and very funny woman who lived through World War II and the Depression, and told me many, many stories about the “old days”. I could do much worse.
And here’s the +1: I can look back over my life and see how God has worked things for my good. Things that, at the time, felt like anything BUT good. A divorce, miscarriages, infertility, death, broken relationships, loss. Those things could have derailed me and made me bitter, but God chose to bring good out of the bad.
Time and age give me perspective and hindsight, and being able to see how God has worked in my life in the past gives me incredible hope for the future. I can trust Him, and it’s not just a feeling because I can point to the stones in the river of my life – those God-moments when He held me in the palm of His hand. God is not some amorphous or vague idea – He is real, He is present, and He is working for my good and your good even now.
I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth, but I can say with some confidence that I’m surely over “halfway to dead” (as my youngest daughter tells me). God Himself is the only one who knows. And while I wish my face looked younger, I wouldn’t trade all my life experience for wrinkle-free skin. I’ve earned these wrinkles, mostly from smiling and laughing.
God has been so very good to me.